The emergence and institutionalization of regimes of transparency and anti-corruption in Poland
Powell, Michael G.
Marcus, George E.
Doctor of Philosophy
In the late 1990's, three interrelated spheres of activities and practices emerged in Poland which either had not existed previously or had only at that moment taken on a qualitatively new status as key players or capital in the political environment: anti-corruption NGO's, expertise, and policy; the Law about Access to Public Information; and investigative journalism. These three spheres appeared simultaneously with a greater public consciousness of a widespread corruption problem in Poland. The main question of this dissertation is: Why did these three interrelated spheres come about when they did and not earlier (or even later)? The dissertation answers this question by ethnographically describing the assemblage of anti-corruption practices in Poland and internationally: anti-corruption NGOs, Freedom of Information laws, and investigative journalism. The problematic of corruption represents the key symbol of an ethos, a system of mood and motivation, emergent in Poland's aftermath following its transition, whether incomplete or not, from communism to democracy and capitalism. This dissertation asks: why has corruption become a common obsession of concerted epistemological concern? Why the rather peculiar obsession with this lingering topic? Further, this dissertation queries why a skeptical reason, paranoid style and hyperbolic tropology is stimulated by corruption and how this subject invokes specters of Polish history. First, this dissertation maps out the key organizations, actors, and discourses that comprise the international anti-corruption arena. In the second section, it follows a coalition of anti-corruption NGO's who came together in the late 1990's to introduce and eventually a pass a Freedom of Information (FOI) law in Poland in 2001. The law embodies the analytic belief that more transparency will lessen corruption, as well as representing an emergent norm for democracy in the late 20th century. The third section ties together a number of seemingly disparate elements in an ethnographic description of investigative journalism in Poland. It demonstrates how journalists triangulate their elusive objects of knowledge while these objects simultaneously deny any such involvement. It asks: what are the conditions, styles, forms, and institutions by which they can assert their stories as true?