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Beginning with the middle of the nineteenth century, Bucharest was the hub of an emerging nation-state, finally turning into the capital city of a kingdom (in the century’s last quarter). This advancement implied the necessity for the town to adapt to a new status and to represent Romania before the world. To this end, broad-based investment projects were necessary; in the first place, the city had to be bestowed with edifices of public institutions. The forms of these buildings, and the designs of grand boulevards, were primarily rooted in the fascination with Paris of the time of Prefect Haussmann. Foreigners’ accounts of Bucharest testify to the image of a ‘Little Paris’ getting anchored at the time. However, the premises for this nickname are traceable in earlier period: an elitist snobbery about ‘Parisian’ salon life was taking shape in the early nineteenth century, whereas the incipient national ideas fell back on the French revolutionary tradition. The overwhelming French influence on the local elites finally raised increasing resistance as potentially damaging to the Romanian identity. This turn triggered certain political as well as architectural projects that were supposed to bring the country’s modern life to its presumed roots or ‘authentic’ tradition.
Content available Polska 1956–1976: w poszukiwaniu paradygmatu
Research into the history of the PRL (People’s Republic of Poland) tends to present the past in the rather simple terms of society versus regime, with the opposing sides being contradictory in their interests and values. Three types of concept prevail: „From One Confl ict to the Next”, „Socialist State, Rebellious Nation”, and the „Totalitarian” perspective. These viewpoints are as superfi cial as their imposed ideological anti-communist perspective. The assumed goal of such historical research is to reveal (to expose, to redress) rather than to understand (to clarify, to explain). To view the modern history of Poland simply in terms of confl ict results in a signifi cant imbalance in examining particular issues. There are examples of monographic work regarding the major social confl icts which occurred during the lifespan of the PRL, but the periods between these incidents have been less popular. Although the distinguishable and academically popular Stalinist period in Poland seems to have been suffi ciently researched, the same cannot be said of subsequent decades. It is the years 1956–1976 which deserve attention, for not only was this a „period of conflict” but it was also a time of signifi cant change within Polish society which affected the political system and its perception, the period’s changes impacting on the well documented conflicts. Important issues regarding Polish society in the second half of the 20th Century have yet to be researched. These include the forming of materialist aspirations, sources of information on the outside world – in particular the possibilities and extent of travel – and the infl uence of the mass media on people’s attitudes. Without an adequate investigation into such issues, bold statements about the system and its dynamics cannot be justified. There remain three main issues – regarding the mechanics of power still widely understood only at a local level – which deserve particular attention: the political culture of the PRL, the importance of ideology and pragmatism in the decision making process, as well as the activity of interest groups on various levels of authority.
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