Settling in uncertainty and risk: Polish responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine
Paula Pustulka, Associate Professor, Head of Youth Research Center SWPS University Warsaw and Irma Budginaité-Mackiné, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Philosophy, Vilnius University present research based on in-depth interviews, exploring Polish responses to the "multi-crisis" of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine.
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the process of settling into uncertainty and risk in the Polish context. Taking into consideration the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the threats related to economic recession, democratic backsliding and climate change, the ULTRAGEN study tracks the responses to the multi-crisis and state of emergency in the context of Central Europe. To operationalize Beck’s broad theorizing of risk society (1992), the paper uses the conceptual framework of ‘unsettling events’ (Kilkey and Ryan, 2021) to highlight how individuals perceive the material, relational and subjective implications of the ongoing multi-crisis. The data comprises 70 in-depth interviews with Polish young adults (18-36) and their parents (44-66) collected in 2021 in the frames of a multi-perspective and longitudinal research. In addition, the analysis includes the and responses from an asynchronous exchange narratives submitted in March 2022 by 43 from the above of the study-participants and elicited specifically in reaction to the 2022 military aggression in Ukraine. As a result of the analysis, the paper reveals concerns over finances and material resources, shifts in social ties and support, and existential meta-reflections on the loss of ontological security that translate to the omnipresence of risk in Poland.