Episode 45: Upward Mobility through Higher Education in Socialist Poland

What obstacles did first generation students face in socialist Poland? And how might their biographies help us design affirmative action drives today? In this episode of the Transformative Podcast, Dr. Agata Zysiak tells Rosamund Johnston (RECET) how political reform of higher education is never enough by itself to overhaul membership of a country’s intellectual elite. Instead, these reforms rely on interpretation and implementation at multiple levels—both within and beyond the university’s walls. Ultimately, Zysiak explains that there came to exist a “clash of privileges” in socialist Poland, between state-support for working class and peasant students on the one hand, and the intelligentsia protecting their privileged claim to the university on the other, with the effect that both limited each other.

Buy Agata's newest book Limiting Privilege. Upward Mobility Within Higher Education in Socialst Poland and receive 30% off the retail price when you order directly from Purdue University Press and use the discount code PURDUE30.

Dr. Agata Zysiak is a historical sociologist at RECET, University of Vienna, and the University of Łódź. She is the author of the award-winning book, Punkty za pochodzenie (Points for Social Origin); coauthor of the main publication about Łódź available in English, From Cotton and Smoke; and the author of Wielki przemysł, wielka cisza (Great Industry, Great Silence), which maps Łódź industry and its collapse. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Wayne State University (Detroit), Free University (Berlin), and Central European University (Budapest), and she was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton between 2017 and 2018.