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Nationalist discourse and the ultra-conservative press in contemporary Poland: a case study of Nasz Dziennik

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After the democratic transition to post-Communist Poland, ultraconservative groups found themselves legitimately able to propagate a nationalist ideology. They focused on an idea of 'national identity' that clearly and restrictively defined the boundaries of the national community. In the late 1990s a far-right movement supported by a radical faction of the Roman Catholic Church gained wide public support and, eventually, political legitimization. The fears of those for whom the transition of the socio-economic system did not bring a change for the better have been exploited by activists and institutions that consistently point to various foreign 'threats' (external and internal) against Poland's political and economic independence and against national integrity. Starnawski analyses forms of anti-pluralist backlash as strategies undertaken by the ultra-conservative media. Provided is a case study of Nasz Dziennik, one of the major Polish newspapers to disseminate a far-right discourse that combines a concept of 'national identity' with radical Catholicism. Such nationalistoriented media use rhetoric that claims to be representative of the dominant group, and attempt to provide the audience with a restrictive sense of identity that is based on the construction of elements that are considered foreign and threatening to a sense of nationhood, a mobilization of the audience against foreign 'threats', and the exclusion or marginalization of elements depicted as incongruous with collective identity, especially the cultures of national and ethnic minorities (both 'native' minorities and recent immigrants), minority religions and alternative cultures, as well as liberal advocates of diversity. Since Polish society is in large part culturally homogeneous, its members are more often exposed to stereotyped images of minority groups than they are to face-to-face contact with members of minorities. Therefore, Starnawski argues, exploring the contemporary nationalist discourse in 'pluralizing' societies such as Poland is no less essential for the diagnosis of anti-democratic obstacles than studying the actual conditions of minority groups themselves. The future of social and cultural pluralism in Poland heavily depends on the majority's awareness of diversity and its ability to promote attitudes of openness to and understanding of cultural differences on the one hand, and a readiness to extend the notion of 'Polishness' to a wide range of cultural and social categories on the other.
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Keywords: Nasz Dziennik; Poland; majority group strategies; minority groups; national identity; nationalist discourse; pluralism; ultra-conservative media

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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