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Project information

Project team

Bettina Bruns

Duration of project

12/2020 – 11/2024

Funded by

Volkswagen Foundation

Further information

Dr Bettina Bruns
Tel. +49 341 600 55-131

"We want to be prepared" – studies on the paramilitary production of security in local social contexts in Poland

Paramilitary units in Poland are growing in number due to the Russian annexation of parts of Ukraine and the high number of refugees reaching the EU in 2015. Out of concern for national sovereignty and security of the country, many citizens join such voluntary associations. The national-conservative government alliance led by the Law and Justice Party (PiS) supports this development and has been integrating parts of the paramilitary groups into the Polish army. As so-called territorial defence, they are intended to support communities in times of war and peace, strengthen patriotism and give the population a sense of security.

The project investigates how security is established in everyday life by paramilitary units in local contexts. What local and regional effects can be observed through paramilitary security production? What is the relationship between state and non-state actors? And what role do emotions play in shaping and perceiving everyday security practices? Qualitative methods such as various forms of interviews and participatory observation are used to answer questions like these. Media analyses and contextual research serve to prepare the fieldwork.


"Citizen Soldiers", interview with Bettina Bruns, published (in German) on 27 March 2023 in the magazine "leibniz"

Bruns, Bettina (2022): Security through emotions: narratives of temporal and spatial belongings of the Polish Territorial Defence Forces. In: Canadian Slavonic papers, 64, 4, p. 445–467.