A dissident movement in Poland consists of a number of heterogeneous groups, each autonomous in its thinking and behavior. All have loose structures in which personal authority takes the place of official titles.

Many of the groups have formed common links through exchanges of papers, overlapping membership and joint communiques and initiatives. At the same time, there are important conceptual differences among the groups, sometimes causing divisiveness on the basic issue of whether to change the system from within or from the outside.

Three of the most important groups are:

KOR, the Committee for Social Self-Defense. Formed following the 1976 worker riots, its original name -- Workers' Self-Defense Committee -- indicated that its role was to defend the striking workers from government reprisals. It was successful. In a year, dozens of workers were released from jail. The group has 34 members and many sympathizers. While its membership consists largely of intellectuals, its goal is to reach the worker. It has a publishing operation named Nowa, which among other things publishes Robotnik, an underground paper for workers.

DIP, a discussion club formally named Experience and the Future. It is made up of more than 100 intellectuals, social activists, lawyers, journalists, academics and several senior Communist Party members. The group has issued two major documents since its founding in 1978 urging social, economic and political change.

Catholic Intellectuals' Club. In existence since 1957, it is a legal organization and its membership includes some former members of the Polish parliament. The club has 2,000 members in Warsaw, plus approximately 2,000 in clubs in Krakow, Wroclaw and Torun. It is associated with a publishing house named Znak ("sign") in Karakow that publishes a number of influential newspapers and magazines.