|From the history of the Lodz Department of the Polish Sociological Association
The Lodz Department of the Polish Sociological Association (PSA) was officially established on 15th February 1960. However at least 10 sociologists from Łódź (the employees of the Institute of Sociology at the University of Lodz and at the same time members of the editorial board of the Sociological Review [Przegląd Socjologiczny]) were already members of the Sociological Section of the Polish Philosophical Association.
This Section was formed as a result of an initiative by professor Stanisław Ossowski in 1956, when the communist authorities allowed Sociology back into Polish Universities. The sociologists from Łódź were encouraged to join the Sociological Section and the Lodz Department of PSA, by professor Józef Chałasiński who had already been one of the establishers of the Polish Sociological Association and a member of the central board of PSA before the II World War (since 1931).
The Lodz Department of PSA was formed by the creators of the Lodz sociological centre: professors Józef Chałasiński and Jan Szczepański together with their eldest students: Antonina Kłoskowska, Jan Lutyński, Wacław Piotrowski, Zygmunt Gostkowski and Jolanta Kulpińska.
However, among the first members – creators of the Sociological Section, and the Lodz Department of the PSA, were also: Krystyna Chałasińska, Krystyna Lutyńska, Renata Szwarc, Andrzej Borucki, Tadeusz Miller (statistics analyst), Ija Lazari Pawłowska (philosopher), Aleksander Kamiński (social pedagogue). The first organizational meeting of the Lodz Department of the PSA took place on 23rd February 1960. Professor Jan Szczepański was chosen to be the first president of the Lodz Department and 5 people became members of the board.
From the very beginning the main activity of the Lodz Department of the PSA was the organization of scientific meetings. The meetings had a different character depending on the time period.
The first period – let us call it the academic period – papers were most often presented by professors or experienced sociologists. All the members of the Lodz Department participated in those meetings as they were very important scientific events. Sometimes guests were invited from other Polish cities/centres, but also from abroad, even from Western European countries (in the times of political laxity), which obviously was of a great importance for the participants in those days.
In the 70’s, when the Department of Industrial Sociology was established in the Institute of Sociology, many sociology graduates started working in the Industry, as so called ‘factory sociologists’. The Lodz Department of the PSA started organizing meetings with so called ‘people of practice’ i.e. engineers, clerks from the Urban National Council [Miejska Rada Narodowa], doctors and artists. The meetings were then attended not only by sociologists, but also by the ‘people from the city’. One of the members of the Lodz Department of the PSA, Andrzej Gniazdowski, started ‘Forum’, whose main goal was the development of social analysis departments in different factories. In this second period the Lodz Department was involved a lot in the ‘social practice’ and was closely tied with the city of Łódź.
Only in the 80’s, when the great social and political transformation was starting in Poland and the whole of the PSA was deeply interested in general/common problems (e.g. the PSA was fighting with censorship), also the Lodz Department of the PSA started inviting sociologists and activists from the opposition to the meetings. A lot of people (also from outside the University of Lodz) attended the speeches made by the guests from Warsaw: Jadwiga Staniszkis, Stefan Nowak, Jan Strzelecki, Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, Ryszard Kapuściński, Andrzej Rychard, and by one of the locals: Jan Lutyński.
The Security Service (Służba Bezpieczeństwa) made a lot of complaints about those meetings. Many officers visited the president of the Lodz Department of the PSA (Jolanta Kulpińska) to show their disapproval.
In those days, from 9th to 12th September 1981 the VI Polish Sociological Congress took place in Łódź. The main topic of the discussion was: ‘Polish sociology in the face of the social problems in the country’.
It was without doubt the most important event in the history of the Lodz Department of the PSA. The Congress was taking place during a particular and meaningful moment of the history. (At the same time in Gdańsk there was the Solidarity Congress and some of the sociologists came to Łódź travelling straight from Gdańsk.) Antoni Sułek wrote about the VI Polish Sociological Congress stating that it was the first Congress after World War II whose programme was filled with topics without political constraints and which exposed the ‘true face’ of the situation thanks to sociological interpretation. The Congress included speeches e.g. about the current strikes (J. Kulpińska), the Solidarity movement (J.Staniszkis), dogmatic authoritarianism (J. Lutyński) and many other topics. The atmosphere at the Congress was splendid, although the media ignored the event completely and it was difficult to even get a loaf of bread in Łódź at that time.
After the Congress the communist authorities didn’t allow the publication of any materials/papers presented at the Congress. Only in 2007 were some of the papers published in the edition of ‘Sociological Review’ (Przegląd Socjologiczny).
During the martial law period the functioning of the Lodz Department of the PSA was suspended.
In the new political and historical circumstances the functioning of the Lodz Department is still concerned with organizing different kinds of meetings and scientific sessions on various subjects.
In the new Millennium, the members of the Lodz Department board are trying to encourage students and young sociologists to participate in the meetings, not only as audience members but also as speakers (e.g. it is our tradition now that every year the best sociology graduates present their papers on the subject of their M.A. theses).
The Lodz Department of the PSA also organizes the meetings and sessions dedicated to sociologists who passed away and who were the creators of the sociological centre in Łódź. It is very important for the members of the Lodz Department board that the young sociologists and students get to know their sociological roots: the work and biography of people like: Józef Chałasiński, Jan Szczepański, Antonina Kłoskowska and others.
There are also meetings organized to commemorate the important events of academic Łódź (e.g. meeting about the students’ strike in1981), and to promote works of sociologists from Łódź. Sometimes speakers from other cities/centres are invited to present their work.
There are three sections of the PSA based in Łódź: the Section of Rural and Urban Sociology, the Section of the Methodology of Social Research and the Section of Qualitative Sociology and Symbolic Interactionism. The Lodz Department of the PSA cooperates with some of them – in particular with the Section of Qualitative Sociology and Symbolic Interactionism (occasional jointly meetings).
Apart from being active in the Lodz Department of the PSA the members from Łódź were always involved in the work of the PSA in general. They were chosen as the central board members: in the 50’s: J. Chałasiński, J. Szczepański, A. Kłoskowska, J. Lutyński. They had different functions e.g. J. Szczepański, J. Lutyński, J. Kulpińska were vice-presidents of the PSA and in 1993 A. Kłoskowska was chosen to be the president of the PSA.
Some of the Lodz Department members have been involved in the central board of the PSA for a long time: K. Lutyńska, W.A. Rostocki, and at present K.T. Konecki. Many members had and still have different functions in the organs of the PSA: the Auditing Comitee, the Court of Arbitration by Fellow Members and others. They are also members of the jury in the S.Ossowski competition (for the best PhD thesis), the F.Znaniecki competition (for the best M.A. thesis) and the competition for the best translation of a sociological work.
The members of the Lodz Department of the PSA have always been active and taken part in different initiatives organized by the central board of the PSA, e.g. fighting censorship and organizing the Polish Sociological Congresses, which wasn’t easy in the previous political situation. The members have also always been active participants, speakers and session organizers at the Polish Sociological Congresses.
The members of the Lodz Department of the PSA participated in many World Sociological Congresses. Two of the events were particularly important. Firstly, the 1959 Congress in Milan and Stresa (as a result of the political thaw there were 10 participants from Łódź there) – J. Chałasiński presented a paper there which was critical of communist ideology and which resulted in political consequences for the author himself and also his students.. Secondly, the 1966 Congress in Evian where J. Szczepański was chosen to be the president of the International Sociological Association (ISA). This decision brought a lot of satisfaction to the whole sociological milieu.
In the next years other members of the Lodz Department of the PSA had various functions in the ISA and presented many papers: J. Kulpińska, Z. Gostkowski, A. Buchner-Jeziorska, A.Kłoskowska and others. Many sociologists from Łódź are also active members of the European Sociological Association (e.g. W. Warzywoda-Kruszyńska, J. Grotowska-Leder, K.T. Konecki).
The history of the Lodz Department of the PSA presented here is brief and not complete. The Lodz Department of the PSA is without doubt one of the oldest and largest (taking the number of members into consideration) Departments of the PSA. Its history is closely connected to the history of the whole sociological centre in Łódź centred around the Institute of Sociology at the University of Lodz and to the people who created/formed it after World War II.