System transformation in Poland from the perspective of the sociological theories of agency
This article explores the sociological meaning of the concept of agency in the context of the experiences of system transformation in Poland after 1989. It critically reviews the existing approaches to studying the structure — agency relationships (structuralist, voluntarist, conflationist and critical realist) and explores two dominant ways of analysing social agency in the sociology of system transformation in Poland — the macrostructural approach and the strategic approach. The macrostructural approach retains the objectivity and causal efficacy of social structures, but tends to underplay the role of the bottom-up morphogenesis of the social order. The strategic approach is focused on morphogenetic processes, but it tends to conflate structure and agency precluding the detailed analysis of their contribution to the constitution of social order. As a solution, it is proposed to combine insights derived from both approaches within the framework of critical realism as developed by Archer. The critical realist approach to the system change conceptualises it as the outcome of the interplay of analytically distinct social structures and agency that develops throughout time. As the social and economic system in Poland is increasingly shaped by its semi-peripheral role within the global capitalist system, it is suggested to move beyond the exploration of system transformation to the analysis of constitution, reproduction and resistance against the Central and Eastern European varieties of capitalism.