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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.138

Migration crisis and polarization of Polish society - rivalry of two national identities


  • Dr. Barbara PASAMONIK

Primary authors


The migration crisis in 2015 provoked media panic in many European countries, including Poland. Refuges’ issue became part of the election campaign and divided Poles into two hostile camps: supporters of opening the borders to refugees ("humanitarian Europeans") and supporters of closing the borders to refugees ("defenders of faith and homeland"). In this study I propose to analyze the polarization of Polish society in the context of the European migration crisis. Polarization of Poles in terms of accepting refugees has renewed the rivalry between two visions of national identity, one based on ethnicity and the other on civility which rewrite the nation in terms of a common, inclusive, civic ‘we’. Based on moral foundations theory developed by Jonathan Haidt (2011) and the perspective of evolutionary psychology, I discuss the contemporary polarization of Polish society in the area of moral values and attitudes (openness/closure). Using data from social surveys in years preceding and following migration crisis, I found that the crisis was instrumentally used to sharpen existing society division and gather supporters for conservative political wing. The strategy proved to be effective and gave, first time in history after 1989, the parliamentary majority to single party.