1st Edition

Sport and Polish Society in the Communist Era Small Towns and History from Below

    242 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Using the history of sport in the small towns and local communities of Poland, this book shines new light on the everyday reality of life under a communist regime in Eastern Europe in the 20th century.

    This book shows how socio-cultural history – ‘history from below’ – that draws on rich sources, including oral testimony, personal archives, and literary and visual material, can provide the missing piece in our understanding of a significant time and place in the contemporary history of Europe. Focusing on the period between 1945 and 1989, this book shows how sport was an important element of state politics and propaganda but looks closely at the local level – at the spaces and material culture of sport – to reveal the extent to which sport had penetrated the daily culture of rural and small-town life in Poland. The stories of football players, local clubs, small sports arenas, and cyclists who crossed geographical and culture boundaries, all add new depth to the history of contemporary Poland, and by examining the history of local sport organisations, this book also reveals important differences between official state ideology, the provincial party apparatus, and the lives of ordinary people.

    This is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in the history of sport, socio-cultural history, European history, the history of the 20th century, or historical methods.


    1 Coming of Age in Rural Poland: Sports and Cultural Shifts in the 1950s

    2 Spontaneous Sporting Activity: Vernacular and Temporary Playing Fields

    3 The Legacy: Sports Infrastructure in Small Towns and Its Cultural Context in the Inter-War Period

    4 Local Dynamics: People’s Sports Teams and Sporting Practices in the Polish People’s Republic

    5 Sport as Social Engineering: Shaping the New Man and Society in Everyday Practice

    6 Road Cycling as a Vehicle for Social Mobility: Exploring the Transformative Power of Sports

    7 Sport in Rural Areas and Small Towns: Acculturation and Local Social Actors in Late Socialist Poland


    Marta Kurkowska-Budzan is associate professor at the Institute of History of Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.

    Marcin Stasiak is assistant professor at the Institute of History of Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.