The sit-in strike at the Gdansk shipyard in August 1980 launched Solidarity: as a mass movement and alternative trade union, which soon had branches in almost all sectors of society. As a predominantly worker movement, demonstration of nonviolent power, and a challenge to the Soviet bloc, Solidarity stimulated a large literature from different ideological perspectives at the time and has been the focus of subsequent scholarship. The movement was the culmination of rising dissent among students and intellectuals, major worker strikes in 1970 and 1976, and the creation of KOR (the Workers Defence Committee) which bridged the gap between workers and intellectuals. A few titles covering earlier dissent as well accounts and assessments of Solidarity are listed below.
You are here
C. I.2.b. Solidarity Movement in Poland 1980-89
Account up to mid-1981 by British journalist familiar with Eastern Europe, with text of Gdansk and Szeczecin Agreements between strikers and government and postscript on December 1981.
and also his essay ‘Fear, Laughter, and Collective Power: The Making of Solidarity at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, August 1980’, pp. 175-194, Goodwin; Jasper; Polletta, Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements (A. 6. Nonviolent Action and Social Movements) .
Highly regarded first hand analysis by scholar of Central Europe and commentator on other civil resistance struggles.
Between arriving in Poland in 1980 and being expelled in 1982, the author engaged in firsthand research and gathered relevant documents to question the emphasis on the role of intellectuals, and develop his thesis on the central role of working class activism and their talent for democratic organization.
Explores women’s consciousness of the period through interviews, many with local Gdansk activists, notes women’s marginalisation in union structures and discusses implications for post-Communist period.
Places participation in Solidarity in context of engagement in previous Polish ‘protest cycles’.
Eye-witness account of early stages, combined with broader analysis. Includes notes on key individuals and organizations and a chronology.
Leading theorist of social movements explores research into opinions of ordinary members of Solidarity, and examines strategic decisions.
Memoir by central (but increasingly controversial) figure in Solidarity.
Includes interesting material on Solidarity’s underground period after December 1981.