Round Table Talks Did Not Happen in a Vacuum: The Political Solidarity Model of Social Change and Polish Transition to Democracy


  • Paulina Górska


Theories of social change developed within social psychology are rarely employed to interpret historical events. This is a serious neglect, as a social-psychological perspective has the capacity to inform our understanding of long-term processes that prepare the ground for major political breakthroughs. In this commentary, I utilize the political solidarity model of social change (Subašić, Reynolds, & Turner, 2008, to examine Poland’s path to democracy. Using a tripolar division for the authority (i.e., communist leaders), the minority (i.e., democratic opposition), and the majority (i.e., unengaged citizens), I argue that the Round Table Talks of 1989 originated from two interdependent social processes that precipitated in the late ’70s. Whereas one of these processes encompassed the loss of popular support for the Communist Party, the other one involved an increase in the majority’s identification with the democratic opposition. I propose that without the co-occurrence of these two processes, the Round Table agreements would not have been possible.