Country Listing

Poland Table of Contents


The Working Classes

In the years following World War II, the composition of the Polish working classes changed significantly. Agriculture, which underwent several major changes in government policy during this period, consistently lost stature as an occupation and as a lifestyle in competition with expanded urban industrial opportunities. The postwar rural exodus left an aging farm population, split apart the traditional multigenerational families upon which rural society had been based, and fragmented landholdings into inefficient plots. In the same period, the augmented Polish industrial work force struggled to achieve the social gains promised in Marxist-Leninist ideology. In the early days, the central planning system yielded impressive gains in the education level and living standards of many industrial workers. Later in the communist era, this group made less tangible gains in social status and began actively opposing the regressive government policies that prevented its further progress. In the early postcommunist era, industrial workers faced high unemployment as privatization and the drive for efficiency restructured their enterprises. By the early 1980s, the working population reached a stable proportion of 40 percent in industry, 30 percent in agriculture, and 30 percent in the service sector (which, like industry, had tripled in size in the postwar era).

Data as of October 1992