Transformational Experience of 1968


14-16 May 2018

Events of 1968 became a turning point in many histories of European (and beyond) countries. They took different shapes, but in many cases it became an important caesura for national histories, marking a generational experience. From the Prague Spring and attempts to liberalize communism, through anti-Semitic campaign in Poland in March, events in May in France and Germany and Mexico and Japan mobilized huge numbers of people, resulted in emergence of new elites and types of activists and transformed whole societies.

In all cases these events were aimed against the ‘old’ – the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, the old Institutional-Revolutionary party in Mexico, the ‘old’ establishment, cultural and political elites of Western Europe. The events also coincided with the growing counterculture and rise of new subcultures and art currents. New tactics and slogans were introduced to the mainstream discourse and public opinion.

What was also significant in the 1968 event (in all contexts) was the role of culture: on one hand prominent artists took part in the events and made their voices heard, on the other, the youth-propelled cultural revolution was in the air almost all over the world. Although the role of popular and counter-culture is often acknowledged by scholars, its conceptualization is often problematic.

The idea of this conference is not about commemorating a historical event and date, but rather to reflect on several issues, such as:

  • The cultural, social and political impacts of 1968 and of social and cultural movementsCultural approaches of social movements
  • The connections between cultural and political impacts and outcomes of movements
  • The presence and participation of youth in social mobilizations and its role
  • Critical approach to historical sociology
  • Assessment of concepts of path dependency with regard to social movements.
  • Connections between East and West and the importance of local contexts
  • Influence of pop culture and counterculture on social mobilizations and vice versa
  • Role of culture in social movement research
  • Intergenerational tensions then and now
  • Connections between social movements and trade unions


The conference will take place at the European Solidarity Centre – an organization devoted to commemorate one of the biggest social movements in the world (the Solidarność) that also serves as a modern local agora. ECS not only hosts the permanent museum exhibition about the birth and development of Solidarność and pro-democratic opposition in Poland and in the whole Eastern Bloc, but also an academic library, music and cultural events, concerts and offers offices to numerous NGOs. The conference will be held in English


14th of February 2018 – Deadline to submit an abstract

28th of February 2018 – Notification of acceptance of abstracts

14-16 May 2018 – the conference in Gdańsk


Prof Alain Touraine, CADIS | EHESS


International Sociological Association RC47


Dr Jacek Kołtan, deputy director of ECS

Dr Grzegorz Piotrowski, Social Thought Department, ECS

Dr Geoffrey Pleyers, FNRS, CriDIS-Université de Louvain


There is no conference fee. The organizers do not cover travel or accommodation costs. Meals during conference will be provided.


In order to submit a proposal:

  • fill in the FORM and remember to include an abstract of your paper OR
  • send an e-mail / please include in the title: 1968 Conference / to:  and include your name, affiliation, title and max. 300 word abstract of the presentation OR
  • by post / with an annotation 1968 Conference / to Grzegorz Piotrowski; European Solidarity Centre; pl. Solidarności 1, 80-863 Gdańsk, Poland


Grzegorz Piotrowski,,Conferences,pid,1052.html

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