'THE CULTURE OF GRUMBLING', 'GLOBAL MEDIOCRITY', NATIONAL NEUROSIS' AND OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE IMAGE OF CONTEMPORARY POLES (IN PRESS ARTICLES). AN OUTLINE OF THE PROBLEM
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Media arouse more and more interest of the ethnologists/cultural anthropologists. They make a good source for the study of contemporary social and political transformation. However, texts of this kind deserve thorough critical analysis.It seems necessary to consider them in broad socio-cultural context. What they show is usually a one-dimensional reality, the image they create is superficial, flat and more often than not- stereotypical. The texts presented and analysed in this article are good examples of such line of portraying social reality, together with creating and maintaining sterotypes. They have been published in several high-circulation Polish daily papers and weekly magazines ('Polityka', 'Gazeta Wyborcza', 'Zycie', 'Niedziela', 'Metropol', 'Fakt' and some other). The articles have been written both by journalists and social and political scientists. They mention Polish fears, complexes and faults and often use terms like: 'national neurosis', 'culture of grumbling'. They tell about people whom they refer to as: 'living beyond, or even against the national life'. The Poles are referred to as 'global mediocrity'. The article is the authoress' polemics with such views. Basing on both press publications and her own observation and research she calls some of those opinions into question suggesting at the same time different interpretation of the same data. One of the problems of her dissertation is how public feelings and public opinion are influenced by the media. The same influence concerns the fall of the society's confidence in public institutions and persons. Media contribute to the growth of frustration and fears in the society and that brings about particular consequences for the social and cultural life. She emphasizes that social fears aren't entirely Polish speciality.The concept of 'global community of fears' seems most appropriate for her. According to Zygmunt Bauman the ubiquoitous fear is related to decline of welfare states, and the prevalence of the global free market economy. The sociologist adds that nowadays the fears are commercialized, for example due to advertising industry. The authoress gives examples how fears become commercialized by pharmaceutical industry as well as by journalists, press photographers and even by some travel agencies. One of the essential principles of the media is: 'black sells better than white'. News with negative overtones have become the most desired commodity. If the world is presented by the media in negative aspects only, the audience is not able to notice the brighter side of life or at least it is difficult to them, as their attention is directed mainly towards the dark side. She wants to prove that even views of difficult social problems like unemployement, homelessness, impoverishment of great part of the society and forced emigration don't have to be one-sided. There are people who try to counteract, to limit the effects of such phenomena, to help, even if on individual scale. There are projects aimed at improvement of the situation, prepared by experts familiar with Polish realities. The interest in them ( not only in the media) is next to none.
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