The collection was created in late 1990s as part of Hanna Palska’s research project entitled ‘Changes in Poles’ Lifestyles: Social Change and the New Choices.’ The project sought to identify the middle class through its cultural specificities (lifestyle changes) in relation to the poor citizens, who had been studied by Prof. Elżbieta Tarkowska a few years earlier. Palska was interested in the everyday life of people living in poverty and in prosperity, as well as the way of inheriting old patterns, values, and life strategies or acquiring new ones. The researcher attempted to capture the essentials of a lifestyle study, i.e. the way things are done as a consequence of previous choices. In this sense, the project was clearly inspired by the works of Prof. Andrzej Siciński.
The research unit was a family living in prosperity in terms of high income level (during the study, this was at least PLN 3,000 per capita in the family) and level of consumption (clear signs of status). The idea was to study those who could be defined as representatives of the affluent middle class rather than the economic elite in the narrow sense. Therefore, the study covered the following groups:
1) owners (13 respondents) – those interviewees owed their success to owning means of production; this group included, for instance, a funeral director (m/1), an owner of a clothes boutique (a/1), two owners of businesses dealing with electric installations (a/2; b/1);
2) managers (11 respondents) – people with a high rank in the hierarchy of power or management, top-level executives, e.g. a director of a representative office of a large foreign company (u/1), a director in a large media company (k/1), a senior official in a ministry (h/1), etc.
3) professionals (12 respondents) – free professionals: attorneys, scholars, authors of creative work, medical doctors, lawyers, journalists, translators, artists, but also technical specialists such as architects or programmers.
4) ‘exotic cases’ – people who did not fit into the previous groups but had a high income and a distinctive lifestyle, for instance a retired man helping to run a home (n/2), women raising children and running their households (c/1; x/2; v/2; j/2), or a university student (f/2).
The letters of the alphabet signify a reference to the respondents’ life partners marked with the same letters.
The interviewees’ places of residence were as follows: 25 participants lived in a big city of over half a million inhabitants, 4 respondents came from large cities, 7 lived in suburban towns, 4 were inhabitants of small towns, while 3 respondents lived in a village at the time of the interview.
The collection contains 35 interview transcripts and additional materials.