The Private Poland

Janine Wedel, Author Facts on File $21.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-8160-1197-1
A book that grew out of Wedel's doctoral dissertation, this has not been edited expertly enough to arrange material into a smoothly readable narrative, retaining academic techniques and a style readers will find plodding. And the author's primary concentration on a single, albeit significant, facet of Polish life, the ""informal'' economy, while enlightening, does not convey a sense of the private everyday. Wedel is well placed to observe the culture of survival in both pre- and Jaruzelski Poland as a traveler and resident in '77 and '79, a Fulbright Fellow during '82'84 and a traveler again in '85. ``Everyone can get something,'' she shows analyzing the na levo (on the left) economy, which, as in the U.S.S.R., where it is also identified as na levo, is integrated into the formal economy and functions through a network of barter, bribes, favors, influence. Reciprocity within one's network is a moral and practical obligation, she notes, yet Poles feel shame along with pride at their na levo successes. Why? ``Why is not a Polish question,'' Wedel stresses, quoting a Pole: `` `Why' underscores a foreigner's naivete about the Polish situation.'' Photos not seen by PW. (July 1
Reviewed on: 06/01/1986
Release date: 06/01/1986
Genre: Nonfiction
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