Young people in Poland have been exposed to significant nation-building efforts in the young post-communist country. Some have endorsed the nationalised perspective that has come to dominate mainstream media, government discourse and school teaching over the last decade, while others are oriented towards Europe and have a more cosmopolitan attitude. The migration crisis unfolding on the border with Belarus since the summer of 2021 represents the most recent and pressing challenge to Polish national identity and at the same time to all of Europe. For those who support the current government policy, the crisis has galvanised their support, but opposition to the government has also increased. Young people find themselves on both sides of this divide.
In the current situation, the sense of identity among young Poles has been profoundly unsettled. We see this in attitudes towards the migration crisis, but also in what young people make of Polish history and the relationship between Poland and Europe, their views on the Catholic Church, and lastly their ideals about gender. This project sets out to investigate the sense of identity and national belonging that young Poles express in the current situation. To this end, a survey will be conducted among young people aged 16–34 from different parts of Poland with the aim of investigating their attitudes towards cultural diversity, their sense of local, national and European identity, but also their views on Polish, European and Soviet history, their relationship to the Catholic Church, and their understanding of gender. In addition, in focus group discussions among a set of young people, the project will explore what they consider to be expressions of Polishness in the current social climate.
- What sense of identity can be discerned among different elements of Poland’s youth?
- How are different layers of belonging – local, national and European – interrelated?
- What political preferences result from the sense of identity that young Poles express?