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Private Poland: An Anthropologist's Look at Everyday Life

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A book that grew out of Wedel's doctoral dissertation, this has not been edited expertly enough to arrange material into a smoothly readable narrative, retaining academic techniques and a style readers will find plodding. And the author's primary concentration on a single, albeit significant, facet of Polish life, the ``informal'' economy, while enlightening, does not convey a sense of the private everyday. Wedel is well placed to observe the culture of survival in both pre- and Jaruzelski Poland as a traveler and resident in '77 and '79, a Fulbright Fellow during '82'84 and a traveler again in '85. ``Everyone can get something,'' she shows analyzing the na levo (on the left) economy, which, as in the U.S.S.R., where it is also identified as na levo, is integrated into the formal economy and functions through a network of barter, bribes, favors, influence. Reciprocity within one's network is a moral and practical obligation, she notes, yet Poles feel shame along with pride at their na levo successes. Why? ``Why is not a Polish question,'' Wedel stresses, quoting a Pole: `` `Why' underscores a foreigner's naivete about the Polish situation.'' Photos not seen by PW. (July 1
Library Journal
During 1977-85 Wedel made several extended visits to Poland and came to know the Poles better than most Westerners do. In that society the gap between an individual's public life and private life is stark and unbridged. Knowing how to cope in both professional and daily life is all-important. To do so, most individuals develop wide-reaching networks and exchange relationships that keep the informal economy operating, provide vital access to informal information, and help in handling bureaucratic problems. The author's perspectives were gleaned during her research in Poland for a Ph.D. in anthropology; some of the terminology of the discipline is evident. However, this is not a rewritten dissertation but instead a very personal account of coming to know Poland's people on human as well as professional terms. Recommended. Marcia L. Sprules, Univ. of South Dakota Lib., Vermillion
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816011971
  • Publisher: Facts on File, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/1986
  • Pages: 256

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