Purpose: The three goals of the article are: first, to show some arguments surrounding the notion of capitalism in theoretical perspective, and also somewhat bashful connotations since it was introduced in Poland after the fall of communism; second, to present some historical facts about the rise of capitalism in Poland in comparative perspective, mostly European; third, to look for cultural categories necessary for analysing the peculiarities of Polish socio-economic development as the part of so-called „the second Europe”.
Methodology: I go back to the history of European patterns of capitalist formation: Anglo-Saxon, French, German, Russian in order to show the Polish trajectory as strikingly different. Before entering the Polish case, I present Mary Douglas and Aaron Widavsky’s proposal – how to analyze four cultures: individualist, egalitarian, hierarchical and fatalistic (authoritarian).
Implications: The main finding is that economic interests are always socio-cultural constructions, hence all definitions of the real life decisions (on public vs private, risk, externalities etc.) that the people make, must frame them within working life of given culture as the combination of universalism and particularism (of above-mentioned four cultures).