Javanese Culture to Economic Condition

Topics: Indonesia, Indonesian language, West Java Pages: 13 (4322 words) Published: November 17, 2010
Prof. Dr. Djoko Suryo, MA.

Compiled by:
Widya Arie Susanti
Batch 54 International


Discussing Javanese culture is not easy, because it is so diverse and complex. Such a discussion could refer to language, way of life, ethics, performing arts, texts and more. This study focuses on the Javanese culture in terms of world-view, “the Javanese idea of the good life” as studied by Magnis-Suseno (1997). Because of the sheer size of the community, the homogeneity of its culture and their influence on the nation’s capital, Javanese culture influences the way of life of most Indonesians, and the Javanese dominate cultural, business, social and political activities in Indonesia (Mann 1996; Magnis-Suseno 1997). The Javanese have a complex code of etiquette and respect, reflected in the Javanese language. However, the maintenance of inner peace and harmony is a priority in social relationships among the Javanese. Indeed, maintenance of social harmony is the core value of Javanese culture (Magnis-Suseno 1997). The social relationship of the Javanese is characterised by two basic principles reflecting their ideas of a good life: conflict avoidance and respect. Javanese culture is characterised by the avoidance of all form of direct confrontation. Indeed, conflict avoidance plays a crucial role in maintaining social harmony. To avoid conflict, the Javanese are committed to the concept called as “rukun”, which shows how people should interact in a social relationship. Mulder (1978, p. 39) has described rukun as follows:

Rukun is soothing over of differences, cooperation, mutual acceptance, quietness of heart, and harmonious existence. The whole of society should be characterized by the spirit of rukun, but whereas its behavioural expression in relation to the supernatural and to superiors is respectful, polite, obedient, and distant, its expression in the community and among one’s peers should be ‘akrab’ (intimate) as in a family, cozy, and ‘kangen’ (full of the feelings of belonging). Rukun is characterised by cooperation, mutual acceptance, calm and unity (Magnis- Suseno 1997). To achieve rukun, individuals should be a part of the group and their individuality should be expressed through the group. Hence, all obvious expression of conflict that lead to disharmony should be avoided. Another way to maintain social harmony is the implementation of the principle of respect. According to this principle, the Javanese, both in speech and behaviour, have to demonstrate “proper respect to those with whom one comes into social contact” (Magnis- Suseno 1997, p. 62). Similar to the principle of conflict avoidance, the use of language and gesture reflects how the Javanese extend their respect to other people in accordance with their social status (such as age and structural positions). Hence, individuals should know their positions and duties, and honour and respect those in higher positions, while remaining benevolent towards, and responsible for those in lower positions (Magnis-Suseno 1997). It is also important to note that in a social relationship, there is almost no room for individualism in the Javanese society. In other words, in spite of being individuals, the Javanese prefer collectivism. This view is based on a belief that social harmony can be threatened by individualism, diversity and conflict (Mulder 1994). As far as collectivism is concerned, it is common for the Javanese to “develop networks of acquaintance: workmates,customers, relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues” (Yudianti and Goodfellow 1997, p. 104). To exercise collectivism, individuals act both in social and in business activities based on the concept of “gotong...
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