In Search of Middle Indonesia

Middle Classes in Provincial Towns


Volume Editors: and
The post-1998 surge in local politics has moved the provincial town back to centre stage. This book examines the Indonesian middle class (now 43%!) up close in the place where its members are most at home: the town. Middle Indonesia generates national political forces, yet it is neither particularly rich nor geographically central. This is an overwhelmingly lower middle class, a conservative petty bourgeoisie barely out of poverty and tied to the state. Middle Indonesia rather resists than welcomes globalized, open markets. Politically, it enjoys democracy but uses its political skills and clientelistic networks to make the system work to its advantage, which is not necessarily that of either the national elites or the poor.
Contributors include Ward Berenschot, Joseph Errington, Noorhaidi Hasan, Gerry van Klinken, Cornelis Lay, Wenty Marina Minza, Jan Newberry, Amalinda Savirani, Sylvia Tidey, Nicolaas Warouw, and Ben White. Photographs by S. Chris Brown.
Open Access
Download PDF

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Gerry van Klinken, PhD (1996), Griffith University, Australia, senior researcher at KITLV and professor of Southeast Asian history at University of Amsterdam, wrote Communal violence and democratization in Indonesia (2007). He coordinated the research programme for this book.

Ward Berenschot, PhD (cum laude, 2009) in political science at University of Amsterdam, is the author of Riot politics (2011). His research focuses on local democracy, political clientelism and identity politics. He is a post-doctoral researcher at KITLV, Leiden.
"Many of the chapters, then, are written by Indonesian scholars, and herein lies the value of this collection: it provides a view of contemporary society and democracy as it is seen by Indonesian people."
– Emma Baulch, in Pacific Affairs 89.1 (2016), p. 230-232.
About the Authors
List of Illustrations

1. Gerry van Klinken - Democracy, markets and the assertive middle
2. Ben White - Betting on the middle? Middletown, Mojokuto and ‘Middle Indonesia’
3. Nicolaas Warouw - Working class revisited: Class relations in Indonesian provincial towns
4. Jan Newberry - Class Mobil
The state:
5. Sylvia Tidey - A divided provincial town: The development from ethnic to class-based segmentation in Kupang
6. Wenty Marina Minza - Ethnicity and young people’s work aspirations in Pontianak
7. Amalinda Savirani - Resisting reforms: The persistence of patrimonialism in Pekalongan’s construction sector
Everyday culture:
8. Cornelis Lay (with Gerry van Klinken) - Growing up in Kupang
9. Noorhaidi Hasan - Islam in provincial Indonesia: Middle class, lifestyle and democracy
10. Joseph Errington - In search of Middle Indonesian: Linguistic dynamics in a provincial town


This volume should interest upper level university students focusing on middle classes in the global South, particularly if they are doing urban studies, anthropology/ sociology, and human geography.
  • Collapse
  • Expand