Our Collections

History of Poverty: Two Case Studies (Katarzyna Korzeniewska’s research from 1999–2000)

The collection contains the transcripts of 32 interviews conducted in 1999–2000 under the project entitled “History of poverty: two case studies” (KBN grant No. 00117), conducted at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, under the direction of Katarzyna Korzeniewska. The project aimed to investigate the problem of poverty in two rural local communities. The results were expected to be used for comparison purposes: the research team collaborated with researchers from other countries of Central and Eastern Europe working under the guidance of Prof. Iván Szelényi, who analysed the problem of poverty during the transition period.

A locality which used to host a state-run farm, located in north-eastern Poland, was selected for the study (in publications and in anonymised materials the locality is called “Owczary”). In order to broaden the context, the nearby traditional agricultural village was additionally studied (changed name: “Kościelec”). The materials made available at the Qualitative Data Archive come from these two villages. The second study examined a case of poverty among ethnic minorities: in a Polish-Roma village in the Polish part of the Spiš region. However, materials from this latter part of the projects have not been preserved.

The study was conducted in two stages in selected localities of north-eastern Poland. First, researchers obtained information about the studied community from local experts, i.e. people who, by virtue of their profession or social position, knew local problems well. In the second step, 22 interviews were conducted with members of 14 families experiencing poverty. In addition, three families considered wealthy in the community were studied for comparison purposes. The surviving materials include recordings or (less commonly) transcripts of 32 interviews. Since only two transcripts were found (interviews 17 and 32), the remaining interviews were newly transcribed by e-transkrypcje.pl – Marta Karp.

The interviews were conducted on the basis of interview guides (available from the Qualitative Data Archive). People experiencing poverty were asked, among other things, about: (a) memories of their parents’ home, the beginning of independent living, paid work, family history; (b) a comparison of their own childhood with their children’s childhood, an assessment of their achievements against the achievements of the siblings, the most important needs and plans for the future; (c) the life of the local community and its ties with the interviewed families, and the role of these ties in the choice of strategies to deal with poverty.

A “family sheet” was supposed to be completed for each of the studied families. This tool was taken over from Prof. Elżbieta Tarkowska’s earlier study, without any changes. At the Qualitative Data Archive, we provide a blank family sheet as a specimen because the completed sheets have not survived. Observation techniques were also used in the project, but the observation notes have also been lost. However, we provide an excerpt from the project report containing a description of research tools and the flow of the research process.