Day 1, February 23rdDay 2, February 24th
FRIDAY, FEB 23 - Full Schedule
9:00-9:10 Official Opening

Opening Session
Chair: Steve Reicher (University of St. Andrews, UK)


Towards the Round Table. Solidarity and communists on the road to the compromise of 1989
Jan Skórzyński (Collegium Civitas, Poland)

Solidarity established in August 1980 after the great wave of workers’ strikes represented a civil society in the making. The union peacefully challenged the communist party dictatorship. It designed a gradual, evolutionary path of democratization with the principle of non-violence. It continued that approach after the declaration of Martial Law in December 1981 by Jaruzelski government. The next decade in Poland was marked by Solidarity’s peaceful fight for the peoples right to representation and, on the other side, the communists defence of the monopoly of power. The failure of the restauration of the orthodox communist order was due to the persistent resistance of democratic opposition and its moderate programme, to the exhaustion of the economic model of socialism and to the progressing de-legitimisation of authorities. The social dialogue in Poland was finally undertaken because thousands of Solidarity activists had not given up on their democratic demands, creating a civil society, with hundreds of independent newspapers, secret trade union cells, self-study courses and artistic life. With independent self-organization and a programme of democratic evolution Solidarity created a credible alternative for so called real socialism. For this reason it was fought by the regime –and that is also why in the end it became a partner in a political contract. The economic collapse and the Gorbachev policy of non-intervention opened the doors to the gradual democratization agreed in the Round Table talks in 1989.


On the role of psychology in Roundtable Agreements
Janusz Reykowski (Polish Academy of Science) & Janusz Grzelak (Warsaw University and Academy of Special Education)

11:40 -12:10 Coffee break


Plenary session 1: Social identity perspective on leadership & conflict resolution
chair: Martijn van Zomeren (University of Amsterdam)
Part of the nation? Leadership, cooperation and the conditions of democracy in the roundtable proces
Steve Reicher (University of St. Andrews, UK)

I shall use this session to frame a discussion about three core issues as approached through a social identity perspective.

  • First, what are the psychological conditions of democratic governance and to what extent do they depend upon framing opposition as ingroup rather than outgroup?
  • What is the role of leadership in the framing and reframing of categories?
  • How are leaders able to built trust with their opponents in the negotiation process without losing the trust of their base? Correspondingly, how they are able to mobilise their base in order to gain leverage in negotiations without letting that mobilisation destroy the possibility of compromise and agreement?
How victimhood affects interpretations of contemporary political events?
Michał Bilewicz, Maria Babinska (University of Warsaw, Poland)

This presentation looks at how societies adapt to the experience of victimization. We show that groups that suffer from victimization tend to interpret current political events as caused by conspiracies. Studies performed in two historically victimized countries (Poland and Ukraine) vs two countries that have been historical perpetrators and collonizers (Spain, UK) show that only in the historically victimized countries the sense of collective victimhood is related to conspiracy mentality. A recent study of this topic in Poland shows that people who consider their nation to be historically victimized would be more willing to use conspiracy theories to interpret political reality, including the Roundtable Aggreement. Based on that we suggest that national groups adapt to historical circumstances – if their historical experiences are full of victimization, they tend to interpret current political processes through lens of conspiracy theories.

13:40-14:40 Lunch break

14:40- 16.10

Plenary session 2: Negotiations in the processes of reconciliation
Chair: Peter Krekó (ELTE University, Hungary)
The Needs-Based Model of Reconciliation: Basic Ideas and Relevance to the Roundtable Agreements
Nurit Shnabel (Tel Aviv University)

The talk will consist of two parts. First, I will define the (rather elusive) concept of reconciliation, and present the Needs-Based Model, a theoretical framework that aims to explain the social psychological dynamic between conflicting parties and identify ways to improve it. Second, I will borrow insights gained through research within the Needs-Based Model’s framework to explain the success of the Polish Roundtable Talks. In particular, I will highlight the importance of: (a) instrumental considerations (e.g., fear of public outburst) in increasing the conflicting parties’ motivation to engage in reconciliation efforts; (b) the successful exchange of power (provided by the PZPR) and moral acceptance (provided by Solidarity) as the mechanism underlying reconciliation; and (c) the importance of non-violent resistance by Solidarity in preventing “competitive victimhood,” a dynamic that characterizes dual conflicts (in which both parties transgress each other) and is known to have detrimental consequences for reconciliation.

Reconciliation as an Emotion Regulation Process
Sabina Čehajić-Clancy (Sarajevo School of Science and Technology)

In this talk I would like to discuss the following three questions. First, I would like to offer a new conceptual framework on reconciliation as an emotion regulation process. In this regard, I will argue that successful and sustainable restoration of intergroup relations in any post(conflict) society requires regulation of negative intergroup emotions such as anger or fear into more positive emotional states. Second, I would like to briefly outline some important socio-psychological interventions which can target specific and important negative intergroup emotions and as such facilitate reconciliation processes. And finally, I plan to briefly discuss underlying psychological processes of such interventions in relation to social identity changes.

16.10-16.40 Coffee break

16.40 – 18.10

Plenary session 3: Moving collective action to negotiation – online and offline
Chairs: Mirek Kofta, Marta Witkowska
Moving collective action to negotiation – online and offline
Martijn van Zomeren (University of Amsterdam), Anna Kende (Eötvös Loránd University), & Paulina Górska (University of Warsaw)

The mixed perception of the Polish Roundtable suggests that people value more radical changes while opposing the violent ways of achieving it. The key question of our presentation is whether achieving social change through negotiations remains a model for today, and whether reaching it would still be possible or desirable. We highlight some of the general dilemmas connected to social change goals and the means to achieve them. First, negotiations behind closed doors, of course, still play a role in democratic politics. However, exerting influence on politics may have become more direct, and people can nowadays be mobilized through their existing social networks without any central organization. As such, the top-down process of social change has been largely replaced by bottom-up influence. Second, we discuss how social change goals may change in the course of the actions, and sometimes lead to paradoxical results, such as in the case of the Italian Five-Star Movement. Taken together, we raise the question whether social media, while ultimately more democratic and egalitarian, can undermine traditional democratic institutions.

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SATURDAY, FEB 24 - Full Schedule

Plenary session 4: Resolving entrenched conflicts: the negotiation proces
Chair: Nurit Shnabel (Tel Aviv University)
Turning Points at the Roundtable
Daniel Druckman (George Mason University, USA), Łukasz Jochemczyk, & Dominika Bulska (University of Warsaw)

A framework for analyzing turning points in negotiation was used to analyze the Roundtable process. A chronological sequence of events from July 21, 1988 to April 5, 1989 was organized for two analyses. The first consisted of charting the trend of negotiating crises and turning points. Particularly notable was the high incidence (79%) of departures following crises. This result supports earlier research on the crisis-turning point relationship. The second analysis consisted of developing process traces for causes (precipitants) of turning points (departures) and their effects (consequences). The results show that the prevailing causes of abrupt departures are procedural events. The consequences are evenly divided between escalations and de-escalations. This pattern suggests that the talks turned on procedural matters and needed to proceed through both heated periods (for departures to occur) and cooling periods for the agreements to emanate. These process patterns are understood in the context of both country-specific and global historical trends. The Polish population was ready for change. They needed the negotiating mechanisms to bring it about. An attempt to explain the dynamics of this negotiation process by means of dynamical systems perspecitve will be additionally made, thus relating internal and external factors to the negotiation process.

Determinants of a Possibility to Reach Peaceful Agreement: How They Were Reflected in the Polish Case.
Daniel Bar-Tal (Tel Aviv University)

The presentation elucidates factors that determine whether a conflict between two rivals can be resolved in a peaceful way. The factors are taken from different realms and represent a wide range of considerations. The objective of the presentation is evaluate and judge each of the factors whether it was playing a role in the peaceful resolution of the Polish conflict between the government and the solidarity movement in 1989.

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

11.00 – 12.30

Plenary session 5: Conspiracies in political conflict
Chair: Michał Bilewicz
The “stolen transition”: Conspiracy theories in post-communist and post-democratic Hungary
Peter Krekó (ELTE University, Hungary)

Conspiracy theories are a form of motivated collective cognition to explain unexpected events, a way to cope with anxiety arising from uncertainty (Krekó, 2015, van Prooijen, 2016). The political transitions in Central Eastern Europe generally resulted in the proliferation of conspiracy theories. So did the economic crisis in 2008-2009, strengthening and amplifying several conspiracy narratives. In this presentation, I aim to introduce the most important conspiracy theories in post-transitional Hungary light of empirical research on representative samples highlighting some of the background variables behind these theories. The political functions of conspiracy theories will be also discussed: conspiracy theories currently totally dominate Hungarian governmental rhetoric, justifying an illiberal way of institutional transformations. In light of some comparative data (Slovakia, Poland and France) I will try to respond the question if there is something country-specific in the conspiracy narratives in Hungary, or they are simply fitting into regional and international patterns.

Belief in the Roundtable conspiracy: Historical narrative of the ruling power in Poland
Mirek Kofta & Wiktor Soral (University of Warsaw)

The 1989 Roundtable talks paved the road to fast political transition (toward liberal democracy and market economy of the “Western World”). However, soon after the transition took place, a conspiracy theory of the Roundtable talks emerged. According to this narrative, the Roundtable talks resulted in contract between the communist power and traitors of Solidarity (accused to be communist agents), allowing to preserve power of communists in the new era. In the panel research conducted in February 2018 we found that this theory: (a) is associated with the denial of a positive historical role of Lech Wałęsa, acceptance of the conspiracy theory of Smoleńsk catastrophe, and high trust in the ruling power, and (2) is shared by supporters of PIS (nationalistic/conservative party at power) and rejected by supporters of the liberal-left opposition. Apparently, historical narrative about the Roundtable conspiracy serves to justify the present political order.

13.00-14.30 Mentoring lunch


Panel Session: The lessons from the Polish Roundtable: Short- and long-term
Chair: Mirosław Kofta, University of Warsaw

16.00-16.30 Coffee break

16.30-18.00 Discussion: Crisis of liberal democracy and its social-psychological underpinnings
Chair: Daniel Bar-Tal (Tel Aviv University)
Present State of Politics: The Rise of Authoritarian, Nationalistic and Populist Regimes
Introduction: Daniel Bar-Tal (Tel Aviv University)

The last decades has witnessed rise of authoritarian, nationalistic and populist regimes in different countries that signaled a dramatic change in the present era. Specifically the trend can be observed in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, India, Israel and more recently in Philippines and Poland. The election of Donald Trump in USA created clearly a new Zeitgeist that affects the rest of world. Moreover, together with the rise of regimes we witness a growth of new strong political wave of rightists and nationalistic parties that significantly increased their power in numerous countries, for example, in Germany, Italy or in France.
All these new regimes carry policies that are nationalistic, populist, anti-democratic, ethnocentric, and even racist often with support of the reactionary religious forces. Many reasons can be identified for this meaningful development that has tremendous effect on the world, especially in states where the elections are free and their results reflected the wishes of the public. Of special importance are socio–psychological causes that have played major role in the development of this trend. In the analysis of this development we need to refer to socio-psychological concepts such as individual and collective needs, collective action, relative deprivation of needs, social identity, collective narratives, group emotion, collective narratives, leaders; rhetoric (demagogy), ethnocentrism, authoritarianism, racism, political orientation and attitudes, persuasion, social representations, power, national symbols, and more. They all contribute to the understanding of the described trend.
It is a responsibility and duty of social psychologists to contribute to the analysis of the destructive developments. The following research question may serve as examples of research directions:
Why did the publics vote for the nationalistic forces?
What were the characteristics of the context that facilitated the election of the nationalistic regimes?
What are the needs of the public that motivated the votes?
What kind of political platforms were persuading to the public?
What kind of groups, sectors and individuals tended to vote for the nationalistic leaders?
What kind of rhetoric used nationalistic leaders that appealed opt the public?
What was the role of the religious forces in the development of this trend?
What were the mistakes and faults of the liberal forces?

18.00 -18:30 Closing session