ISSUE: 2/2021

  • Volume 25
  • Number 2
  • 2021

Studia Europejskie –
Studies in European Affairs

ISSN: 1428-149X
e-ISSN: 2719-3780

Ccbync License


Articles published in the journal are under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial – No Derivatives 4.0 International License

Children as an Object of the Right-Wing Populist Politics and Discourse in Poland


In Central and Eastern Europe populist regimes are attracting attention as a result of the traumatic legacy of communism, the subsequent overburdening reforms and exhausting systemic transformation, resurgence of ever-lurking nationalism, regional conservatism, parochialism and cultural chauvinism, and/or as an example of the structural shortcomings of young democracies at the borders of civilization. The subject literature also indicates numerous and universal elements of populist governments, present as well in this part of Europe. Without prejudging the aptness and strength of these various concepts and arguments, this article is an attempt to include in these wideranging themes a particular issue that absorbs conservative populists, namely “childhood” and “children”. While the problem of children in politics has already received numerous interpretations, the importance of childhood in the right-wing populist discourse and politics has so far remained an issue discussed only occasionally. We put forward the thesis that children play an important and specific role in the right-wing populist superstructure – they constitute an illusory picture of the nation, an allegory of its renewal, as well as a convenient, though inconsistently used, instrument for achieving political, ideological and propaganda goals. Attitudes towards children can be an important characteristic of populism as such, and should be taken into account in research on the subject. We will illustrate these problems using the example of Poland and the populist Law and Justice (PiS) Party that is in power there now.


Akkerman T., Populism and Democracy: Challenge or Pathology?, “Acta Politica”, no. 38/2003, DOI:

Amnesty International, Portes ouvertes sur l’avenir. Non à la ségrégation des enfants Roms dans les écoles slovaques, 2010, (access8.02.2021).

Ariès P., L’Enfant et la vie familiale sous l’Ancien Régime, Sciences Po University Press, Paris 1975 (1re éd. 1960), DOI:

Benedict R., Continuities and discontinuities in cultural conditioning, “Psychiatry”, no. 1/1938, DOI:

Billout M., Rapport d´information fait au nom de la commission des affaires européennes sur l’intégration des roms: un défi pour l’union européenne et ses états membres, 2012,
199/r12-199_mono.html (access 8.02.2021).

Bugaric B., Populism, Liberal Democracy, and the Rule of Law in Central and Eastern Europe, “Communist and Post-Communist Studies”, no. 41(2)/2008, DOI:

Bunt kobiet. Czarne Protesty i Strajki Kobiet, eds. E. Korolczuk et al., ECS, Gdańsk 2018.

Dagiel D., Kowalik-Olubińska, D., Bycie dziecka w Polsce ‘dobrej zmiany’ – między Konwencją o Prawach Dziecka a rzeczywistością, “Problemy Wczesnej Edukacji”, no. 4(43)/2018, DOI:

Dejneka P., Populizm a sfera publiczna, Czy populizm zrewitalizuje sferę publiczną w Europie, PWN, Warszawa 2019.

Dziemianowicz-Bąk A., Polska wojna o szkołę, Institute of Advanced Studies, Warsaw 2017.

Exposé of Prime Minister Beaty Szydło of 2015, (access 15.04.2021).

Gidron N., Bonikowski B., Varieties of Populism: Literature Review and Research Agenda, „Working Paper Series, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs”, No. 13-0004/2013, DOI:

Interview with Jarosław Kaczyński, Kaczyński: Polska minus? Będzie się demoralizowało dzieci, „Rzeczpospolita” 2019, (access 5.02.2021)

Kaganiec zamiast kaganka? Jak polska szkoła zmieniła się przez cztery lata rządów PiS, „Dziennik Gazeta Prawna”, 27.09.2019,,jak-polska-szkolazmienila-sie-przez-cztery-lata-rzadow-pis.html (access 8.02.2021).

Kirsi P.K., Häkli J., Are There Politics in Childhood?, “Space and Polity”, no. 15(1)/2011, DOI:

La Fontaine J., An anthropological perspective on children, in: Children of Social Worlds. eds. M. Richards, P. Light, Polity Press, Cambridge MA. 1986. Laclau E., Populism: What’s in a Name?, in: Populism and the Mirror of Democracy, ed. F. Panizza, Verso, London 2005.

Lubbock J., The origin of civilisation and the primitive condition of Man, Longmans, Green and Co. New York, Bombay and Calcutta 1912.

Mead M., Coming of Age in Samoa, William Morrow & Co., New York 1928.

Mény Y., Surel Y., The Constitutive Ambiguity of Populism, in: Democracies and the Populist Challenge, eds. Y. Mény, Y. Surel, Palgrave Macmillan, London 2002, DOI:

Michalak M., Letter to Prime Minister. Document nr GA8.422.10.2018.

Michalak M., Letter to Prime Minister. Postawy rasistowskie i ksenofobiczne się nasilają. Jak temu przeciwdziałać? Rzecznik pisze do premiera Morawieckiego i ministra Ziobry. Document nr XI.518.5.2018.

Mudde C., Kaltwasser, R.C., Working Paper: Voices Of The Peoples: Populism in Europe And Latin America Compared, 2011, sites/default/files/old_fi les/documents/378_0.pdf (access 5.02.2021).

Mudde C., The Populist Zeitgeist, “Government and Opposition”, no. 39(4)/2004, DOI:

Polakowski M., et al., Polityka Społeczna Rządu Prawa i Sprawiedliwości, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Warsaw 2017, (access 8.02.2021).

Populism, Memory and Minority Rights: Central Eastern European Issues in Global Perspective, ed. A.-M. Bíró, BRILL, Boston 2018, DOI:

Prezydent w TVP Historia: Dzieci i wnuki zdrajców Rzeczypospolitej zajmują eksponowane stanowiska, „Gazeta Wyborcza” 30.04.2017,,75398,21751420,prezydent-w-tvp-historia-spor-ozolnierzy-wykletych-to-takze.html (access 8.02.2021).

Program Prawa i Sprawiedliwości. Polski Model Państwa Dobrobytu, 2019. (access 5.02.2021).

Rawls J., Theory of Justice (revised edition), The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. 1999.

Sherr S.A., Scenes from the Political Playground: An Analysis of the Symbolic Use of Children in Presidential Campaign Advertising, “Political Communication”, no. 16(1)/1999, DOI:

Skelton T., Taking young people as political actors seriously: opening the borders of political geography, “Area”, no. 42/2010, DOI:

Stewart M., The Gypsy ‘menace’: Populism and the New Anti-Gypsy Politics, Hurst Publishers, London 2012.

Such E., Walker R., Young citizens or policy objects? Children in the ‘rights and responsibilities’ debate, “Journal of Social Policy”, no. 34(1)/2005, DOI:

Szafrańska M., Penalny populizm a media, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, Kraków 2015.

Taggart P., Populism and the pathology of representative politics, in: Democracies and the populist challenge, eds. Y. Mény, Y. Surel, Palgrave Basingstoke 2002, DOI:

Taylor E.B., Primitive Culture, John Murray, London 1903.

Tismăneanu V., Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism and Myth in Post-Communist Europe, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1998, DOI

To początek nowej epoki kulturowej. Wrogiej feminizmowi i kobietom, wrogiej członkom społeczności LGBT i mniejszościom, „Gazeta Wyborcza”, 17.09.2018,,163229,23932327,to-poczatek-nowej-epoki-kulturowejwrogiej-feminizmowi-i-kobietom.html (access 8.02.2021).

Tokarz T., Konserwatyzm a edukacja demokratyczna, in: Demokracja i edukacja: dylematy, diagnozy, doświadczenia, eds. K. Gawlicz et al., Wydawnictwo Naukowe Dolnośląskiej Szkoły Wyższej, Wrocław 2014.

White S., Choudhury, S., The politics of child participation in international development: the dilemma of agency, “The European Journal of Development Research”, no. 19(4)/2007, DOI:
09578810701667508., 23.03.2019, (access 5.02.2021).

Language: English

Pages: 67-91

How to Cite:


Rakusa-Suszczewski, M. (2021) "Children as an Object of the Right-Wing Populist Politics and Discourse in Poland". Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 2/2021, pp. 67-91. DOI: 10.33067/SE.2.2021.4