Workers and business people: Occupational career patterns and social change in Poland
The paper presents the results of a research on the occupational careers followed by workers and business people in the period of deep social change in Poland after 1989.
The concepts of career, resources, and biographical work enabled the investigation of interaction between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ aspects of occupational life. The application of grounded theory methodology for the analysis of over two hundred narrative interviews with contemporary Polish workers and business people enabled us to go beyond the analysis of individual cases and to reconstruct a typology of careers. The patterns of ‘anchor’, ‘patchwork’, and ‘construction’ go crosswise the divisions determined by the discourse of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of system transformation, the organizational hierarchy and stratification. The pattern of construction career, long-term planned and most rewarded in the new reality, turns out to be hardly accessible for most of workers, small entrepreneurs and low-level managers. In consequence, the objective inequalities on the level of possessed resources are translated into biographical processes leading to the ‘naturalisation’ of chaotic patchwork career and the ‘work on position’ within a career well anchored in one company.