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Open Access Introduction: Democracy, Markets and the Assertive Middle

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Introduction: Democracy, Markets and the Assertive Middle

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book In Search of Middle Indonesia, which examines the expanding Indonesian middle class up close. Instead of statistics, it contains ethnographic studies conducted in provincial towns, where most of its members live. The ideas on the middle class have been shaped by more relational, political questions. Class is not essentially a question of income or expenditure categories; it is a political concept, intended to explain why differences remain between the behaviour of rich and poor people over matters of the common good. In author's experience, the booming provincial middle class favours economic protectionism, wants more state and not less, and practices a flawed patronage democracy. Decentralization, not human rights or justice for the poor, was for this bureaucratic middle class the central reform. Middle Indonesia on the whole resists rather than welcomes globalized, open markets.

Keywords: central reform; decentralization; economic protectionism; ethnographic studies; flawed patronage democracy; Indonesian middle class; open markets; political questions



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