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prof. Elżbieta Hałas

Scientific activity

In the years 1973-1978, she studied philosophy, social sciences, and Romance studies at the Catholic University of Lublin. She obtained her Master’s degree in Philosophy in 1978. She received her Doctor of Humanities degree in Sociology in 1986 at the reactivated Faculty of Social Sciences at the Catholic University of Lublin. She obtained her habilitation in 1993 at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Catholic University of Lublin. She was awarded the title of Professor of Humanities in 2003 upon the recommendation of the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Warsaw.

She conducted research in foreign institutions, receiving scholarships from institutions such as the Zentrum für Interdisciplinäre Forschung (Bielefeld), KU Leuven, European University Institute (Florence), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Fulbright scholarship), University of Georgia at Athens (American Council of Learned Societies scholarship), Center for Social Sciences, Columbia University, Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM in Vienna), and John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies (Freie Universität Berlin).

Since October 1, 2003, she has been working at the University of Warsaw, where she became a Full Professor in 2008. From 2008 to 2020, she was the head of the Department of Sociology of Culture at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Warsaw. In 2020, she established the Center for Relational Analysis of Culture and Society at the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Warsaw.

Scientific interests

She combines an analytical and systemic approach in the field of humanistic sociology with an interdisciplinary perspective of philosophy, cultural anthropology, semiotics of culture, linguistics, and discourse analysis. She focuses on the social context of meanings and symbolic-interactionist and relational analyses of socio-cultural processes. She links the problems of sociology of the individual, personal identity, and biography with symbolic-interactionist processes of constituting collective subjects and social movements, as well as with the dynamics of cultural transformations in modernity.

She develops sociology of symbolic processes, research on the politics of symbolization, and collective memory. In her analyses of contemporary changes in systems of social meanings and axionormative orders, she refers to the achievements of cultural sociology, sociology of knowledge, and sociology of religion.

She combines research in the field of theoretical sociology with the history of sociological thought and the history of ideas. She focuses on the development of the relational paradigm in cultural studies and the development of relational sociology.

Information about publications

She has published 10 authored monographs (including two new editions). These include books on symbolic interactionism and social symbolism: Symbolic Interactionism: The Social Context of Meanings (2006 – new edition; 2012), Symbols in Interaction (2001), and Symbols and Society: Sketches from Interpretive Sociology (2007; Russian translation in 2021). She presented an innovative concept of engagement in religious movements inspired by symbolic interactionism and Victor Turner’s symbolic anthropology in the monograph Conversion: A Sociological Perspective (2007 – new edition). Her interest in the genesis of symbolic interactionism is reflected in the book Civil Sociology of the Chicago School: Charles H. Cooley, George H. Mead, Herbert Blumer (1994). Her interest in cultural theory and cultural sociology is evident in her authored books Towards the World Culture Society: Florian Znaniecki’s Culturalism (2010) and Through the Prism of Culture: Dilemmas of Research on Modernity (2015).

She has edited or co-edited 15 monographs (7 in English). They include topics such as American sociology, the influence of the Columbia University sociologists, the interpretive paradigm

She has edited or co-edited 15 monographs (7 in English). They cover various topics, including American sociology, the influence of the Columbia University sociologists, the interpretive paradigm, politics of symbolization and cultural memory, as well as the intellectual legacy of Florian Znaniecki.

She is the author of a series of publications in Polish and English that focus on the symbolic dimension of systemic transformation in Poland. Another line of her research is related to the contemporary relational turn in social sciences and relational sociology. She has published numerous articles in international journals such as “Zeitschrift für Soziologie,” “Studies in Symbolic Interaction,” “Symbolic Interaction,” “Sign System Studies,” “Time and Society,” “TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences,” “Journal of Classical Sociology,” “Journal for the History of the Behavioral Sciences,” “European Journal of Social Theory,” “European Review,” “Polish Sociological Review,” as well as in Polish journals including “Studia Socjologiczne” and “Kultura i Społeczeństwo.” She has also authored many chapters in collective works published by SAGE, Ashgate, John Benjamins, Peter Lang, Springer, FrancoAngeli, Blackwell, and Wiley.

Selected publications
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “Relational Care: Rethinking Altruism.” W Relational Reason, Morals and Sociality, red. Elżbieta Hałas, Aleksander Manterys, 69-93. Berlin: Peter Lang, 2021.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “Gift and the Coefficient of Sociability. Relational Sociology and the Anti-Utilitarian Movement in the Social Sciences.” Polish Sociological Review, 212, nr 4 (2020): 399-410. DOI: https://doi.org/10.26412/psr212.01
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “The Future Orientation of Culture and the Memory of the Past in the Making of History.” Sign System Studies 45, nr 3/4 (2017): 361-79. Special issue: Semiotics and History: Boris Uspenskij 80.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “The Past in the Present. Lessons on Semiotics of History from George H. Mead and Boris A. Uspensky.” Symbolic Interaction 36, nr 1 (2013): 60-77.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. Interakcjonizm symboliczny. Społeczny kontekst znaczeń. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 20122. Wydanie nowe.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. Towards the World Culture Society. Florian Znaniecki’s Culturalism. Frankfurt Am Main: Peter Lang, 2010.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “Issues of Social Memory and their Challenges in the Global Age.” Time & Society 17, nr 1 (2008): 103-18.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. Symbole i społeczeństwo. Szkice z socjologii interpretacyjnej. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2007. Przekład na język rosyjski: Hałas, Elżbieta. Символы и общество. Интерпретативная социология, przeł. Григорьева М., Харьков:  Гуманитарный центр, 2021. ISBN: 978-617-7758-19-7.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. Perspektywa socjologiczna. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, 2007. (Wydanie nowe).
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “Classical Cultural Sociology. Florian Znaniecki’s Impact in a New Light.” Journal of Classical Sociology 6, nr 3 (2006): 257-82.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “Constructing the Identity of a Nation-State. Conflict over the Preamble to the Constitution of the Third Republic of Poland.”Polish Sociological Review nr 1 (2005): 41-68.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “Pierre Bourdieu’s Concept of the Politics of Symbolization and Symbolic Interactionism.”Studies in Symbolic Interaction 27 (2004): 235-257.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “Symbolism and Social Phenomena. Toward the Integration of Past and Current Theoretical Approaches.”European Journal of Social Theory 5, nr 3 (2002): 351-66.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. “How Robert M. MacIver was Forgotten: Columbia and American Sociology in a New Light 1929-1950.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 37, nr 1 (2001): 27-43.
  • Hałas, Elżbieta. Symbole w interakcji. Warszawa: Oficyna Naukowa, 2001.


Completed projects

She has carried out projects funded by the Committee for Scientific Research, the Foundation for Polish Science (Master’s program), and under the auspices of organizations such as the American Council of Learned Societies, the Center for Social Sciences (Columbia University), and the J.F. Kennedy Institute of North American Studies (Freie Universität Berlin).

She is a member of the Scientific Council and a co-implementer of the project “Social Space, Fields, and Relationality in Social Analyses – Contemporary and Historical. Research Network,” funded by the National Agency for Academic Exchange (Narodowa Agencja Wymiany Akademickiej – NAWA) from 2019 to 2022.


She established and edits the book series„Studies in Sociology: Symbols, Theory and Society”.

She has performed scientific translations and written introductions for the following works: Florian Znaniecki, Metoda socjologii (2008); Florian Znaniecki, Relacje społeczne i role społeczne. Niedokończona socjologia systematyczna (2011); Teodor Abel, O Florianie Znanieckim. Wybór z dziennika(1996).

She initiated, served as the scientific editor for translations, and wrote introductions for the following works: John Lofland et al., Analiza układów społecznych. Przewodnik metodologiczny po badaniach jakościowych (2009); Harrison C. White, Tożsamość i kontrola. Jak wyłaniają się formacje społeczne (2011); Wendy Griswold, Socjologia kultury. Kultury i społeczeństwa w zmieniającym się świecie (2013).

She has been a member of the editorial boards of scientific journals such as “Symbolic Interaction” (1986-2011); “Polish Sociological Review” (1999-2014); “Studia Socjologiczne” (1997-2007); “Czech Sociological Review” (2013-2020); “Sociologia e Politiche Sociali” (since 2014); “European Societies” (2002-2010); “The Sociological Quarterly” (2016-2020).

From 1999 to 2003 (two terms), she served as a member of the Executive Committee of the European Sociological Association. She was a member of the Sociology Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences (1996-2011; 2020-2023) and a member of the Scientific Excellence Council (2019-2023). She is a member of the Scientific Council of the Florian Znaniecki Foundation (since 1993).

She has supervised eight doctoral dissertations as a mentor.