A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 3, Edited by Jerzy Jedlicki
Chapter 2: Styles of life
← 40 | 41 → Chapter 2:Styles of life
The eventful social phenomena covered so far: the pauperisation of the nobility; the liberation of women and the emancipation of the Jewry, were not the only challenges faced by the Polish intelligentsia during the second half of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century. This period was also marked by considerably deepening differences in the standards and styles of life of the individual groups classed as ‘(the) intelligentsia’. Family and social connections, professional career, the size of one’s clientele – for the liberal professions, and the simple fact of having a permanent job or tenure, with an opportunity to fulfil one’s potential with the learned and trained line-of-work, plus residence in one of the country’s intellectual centres, or in the provinces: all these factors determined not only the intelligentsia member’s welfare but also his, or her, style of life and hierarchy of values.
It might apparently seem that the gap between a wealthy professor of medicine in Warsaw or Krakow, pursuing an extensive practice among the city’s financial elites, and a student renting out a bed in a shared room, or, a provincial-town teacher, was much greater than any inter-Partition difference, and much harder to eliminate than the dislike with which women, or Jews-under-assimilation, were ‘welcomed’ into the labour market. Given the context, it could also seem that to speak of a bond tying the intelligentsia as a whole, and of an ethos shared by all the members of this social group, would be an abuse...
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