Ever since its publication in 1918, William Thomas and Florian Znaniecki’s classic, interdisciplinary work has inspired social scientists, psychologists, educators, anthropologists and culture scholars across the world.
Commemorating the centenary of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, the University of Lower Silesia (Wrocław, Poland) will host a conference to emphasise the book’s relevance to the development of multiple disciplines and their varied research.
Zygmunt Bauman asserts in his article Florian Znaniecki, our contemporary that Znaniecki’s works and ideas were ahead of his time (Bauman 1999), and Zygmunt Dulczewski insists that The Polish Peasant in Europe and America should be viewed as ‘a pioneering study in exploring the subjective experience of Polish immigrants and other ethnic minorities’ (Timeliness of methodological note, Dulczewski 1999).
Researchers (e.g. P. Dominicé, G. Pineau, M. Lani-Bayle, Ch. Delory-Momberger, Ch. Niewiadomski, F. Ferrarotti, D.Bertaux, Ch.Heslon, M.C. Josso, J.González-Monteagudo, O. Czerniawska, E. Kowalska-Dubas, E. Skibińska, M. Nowak-Dziemianowicz, D. Lalak, K. Kaźmierska and D. Urbaniak-Zając) have repeatedly highlighted the merits of The Polish Peasant, underscoring the study’s novel and innovative approaches to analysing and interpreting authentic (orginal) documents, in which the relevance of human life’s biographical dimension was vigorously foregrounded. The scholars have also emphasised the book’s role in promoting the biographical framework across the humanities and social sciences throughout the world.
Elżbieta Kowalska-Dubas observes that ‘biographical research was introduced to Poland by Florian Znaniecki in Poznań in 1921 and immediately sparked off widespread interest. The biographical method came to be known internationally as a “Polish method” and applied extensively in sociological research. At the time, biographical research in Poland was based on autobiographical writings accessed through memoir competitions, which were advertised in the press’ (Time, biography and biographical research – the variety of contexts in andragogical perspective, Kowalska-Dubas 2014).
Undoubtedly, the centenary of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918-2018) is an unmissable opportunity for international scholars to meet, celebrate and, more importantly, exchange experience on the development of the biographical method in various countries.
We envisage the conference will foucus on four major subject areas:
- past experiences in applying the biographical method as an approach in research and practice (achievements, challenges, methodological critique, etc.);
- current ways of implementing the biographical approach, including the participants’ own experiences;
- prospects for the development of the biographical approach in social and humanities research,
- experiences, processes and changes identified by various scholars in the space of people’s biographies.