New project on village governance in Indonesia

In 2022 it will be 55 years since the publication of Koentjaraningrat’s Villages in Indonesia. With contributions from some of the most outstanding Indonesia researchers at the time, the book was a comprehensive attempt to compare the character of villages across Indonesia. Since then villages have become even more important: various reform measures – most notably the 2014 village law – have not only given village institutions more power and budgets but also stimulated popular participation in village affairs. Rural Indonesians living in the country’s 70 thousand villages mainly interact with their government through village institutions.

These far-reaching reforms call out for another round of comparative research to study the character of village governance across Indonesia. To this end 23 researchers will conduct fieldwork in 18 villages in 9 provinces to study how villages are administrated in contemporary Indonesia. They will focus not just on the functioning of the village apparatus, but also on village head elections, consultative village meetings and other forms of participation in village decision making, as well as the workings of formal and informal accountability mechanisms. In doing so, this project not only aims to evaluate the impact of democratic and administrative reforms, but also explore whether and how the character of village governance varies across Indonesia. In particular this project investigates how local economies, social cleavages and customary institutions impact the character and quality of governance.

This project is a collaboration between KITLV, Universitas Gadjah Mada (PolGov) and Australian National University. The research is funded by the World Bank.

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