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Open Access A Historical Synthesis

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A Historical Synthesis

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Chapter Summary

Indonesia has about 200 provincial towns with populations between 50,000 and a million, and yet they have attracted far less scholarly attention than the nation's few large cities. In these towns, recent democratization and decentralization have brought to light patterns of communal and localist electoral mobilization that have not been seen since the 1950s and early 1960s. Provincial towns have talked back to the centre in ways that belie their supposed passivity as expressed in the once popular term 'urban involution'. This chapter builds a synthetic and historical explanation for these patterns by examining the social and spatial embeddedness of the state in the provincial town. Behind the bureaucratic politics that dominate provincial towns lies a complex of social forces that deserves analysis in its own right. The chapter develops a synthetic account of those forces.

Keywords: bureaucratic politics; Indonesia; provincial towns; social forces; urban involution



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