International Relations Kushay's Matter Bank

[AK] Competitions among the Middle Class in Indonesia


Often politicians in Indonesia shaped the discourse on competition and inequality among racial lines, rich Chinese vs poor Pribumi. Indeed, the notion of inequality, framed along ethnic and religious lines, has been used intentionally by some politicians and religious leaders to serve or to justify their political or religious interests.

When we talk about socioeconomic inequality in Indonesia today, we should debunk two myths: first, that Chinese are rich and non-Chinese are poor; second, poor Muslims are more easily prompted to embrace religious intolerance. For sure, not all Chinese Indonesian are rich. Moreover, there is an expansion of both emerging and well-established class of Muslim entrepreneurs and professionals.

The pious Muslim middle classes are expanding their influence in Indonesian society. For example, there is a growing number of Muslim gated communities (similar to Chinese-majority gated communities) and Integrated Islamic schools (similar to private Christian schools) in peri-urban Jakarta areas, which are popular among pious Muslims.

It is important to explore who are the existing and the emerging middle class Muslims, as well how their different cultural aspirations, economic interests and political values are shaping and shaped by Indonesian politics and Islamic discourses.

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