Remaking History and Remaking Psychology: On the Contributions of Janusz Reykowski and Janusz Grzelak to the Polish Round Table Negotiations


  • Stephen Reicher


In this introductory piece to the special issue, I seek to establish the importance of the topic under discussion: that is, the psychology of the 1989 Polish Round Table Talks. I start by underlining the unique opportunity to gain insight into this topic given that two of the main protagonists, Janusz Reykowski on the Government side and Janusz Grzelak on the Solidarity side, are social psychologists. Next, I argue for both the world-historical significance of the Round Table Talks and for the necessity of a psychological dimension to the analysis of what happened. I then address what Psychology provides for an understanding of the Round Table process and what the Round Table process contributes to an understanding of Psychology. Specifically, this turns on the need for a more complex and historical conceptualisation of intergroup relations in which the very nature of the groups in relation may be transformed. I conclude by pointing to further research opportunities on this key question of the configuration and reconfiguration of social groups.