Poland in the Post-Communist Era: Systemic Changes and the New Face of Crime

Cecile Van de Voorde, University of South Florida

An essay and review examines the effects of the collapse of communism and subsequent social changes on crime in the Republic of Poland. A brief overview of the post-war socialist regime and Communist rule helps to shed light on Poland's social and economic reform since 1989. Official statistics are used in an effort to describe and analyze the significant increase of crime rates and the new structure of crime in a period of rapid systemic changes towards a free-market economy. The transition from socialism to capitalism is further investigated to explain recent crime trends and elucidate how the phenomenon poses a likely threat to Western countries, as well as to reflect upon the potential for crime prevention in post-communist Poland. Crime prevention strategies are surveyed and new policing trends are also described. Finally, the relative inadequacy of Western criminology in the Eastern European context is discussed in order to emphasize the irrelevance of Western theories on the etiology of crime and social deviance to the Polish model. An original theoretical approach is therefore suggested that focuses on the peculiarity of the socio-political transformation of Poland since the late 1980s.

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Updated 05/20/2006