JAKARTA, city of the thousand malls (2), “Observing the NEW Indonesian Middle Class”

JAKARTA, city of the thousand malls (2)

“Observing the NEW Indonesian Middle Class” 

I have never thought before, that by writing this title of my new blog  I had to come to blogs and information that I have never cared for before, as you will see below, and this  turned  out to be soooo (yes with four “o”s) enjoyable to me.

First:  JAKARTA (with capital letters because it is the capital of Indonesia) is inhabited by…… WHAT ? … maybe 14 million people among whom I am one….. and as I told before I was born, brought up, have gone to school, have worked and still spend part of my retired live (partially) here.

Since I have no patience to count the available malls and shopping centers one by one you may if you are interested in it find a list of it out here. For me an important question was : How is it possible that some smart people find it profitable to build (and still ARE building shopping malls in and around Jakarta). Stupid question, of course the answer is because those smart (?) people have ordered even smarter consultants to make Feasibility studies looking at various trends and forecasts (that they bought for a lot of money from foreign or domestic institutions)  and made proposals brought these proposals to the MOST powerful  city government officials…… and got a permit ….  Then they knocked on the door of one or a few of the many Banks (yes with a capital “B” because they are OOOOH so powerful) domestic and/or abroad ……. and if they are successful “SCHWUPP di WUPP”  the new mall is there…… and after cutting a nice ribbon with a lot of beautiful girls standing around the new mall is inaugurated and ……… people start drumming in, in hordes ……….

WHO are these people ? I found a film in Youtube showing scenes of Jakarta, PARDON, Batavia  that were made at the end of the Dutch colonial time (1941). The accompanying text of the film says : “This rare film shows Batavia, (Jakarta), before the initial end of the Netherlands Indies, and the start of eight years of conflict, resulting in the end of colonialism.”  Apart of the few Dutch and Eurasians shown in the film it might be that the 2013 inhabitants of Jakarta might be descendants of those people shown……THUS : There was and is still a SOCIAL CHANGE going on in Jakarta and of course in Indonesia as a whole. The above reference  the various theories that are available such as (in short) is copied below:

Theories about social change, and directions of change.[2]

  • Hegelian: The classic Hegelian dialectic model of change is based on the interaction of opposing forces. Starting from a point of momentary stasis, Thesis countered by Antithesis first yields conflict, then it subsequently results in a new Synthesis.
  • MarxistMarxism presents a dialectical and materialist concept of history; Humankind’s history is a fundamental struggle between social classes.
  • Kuhnian: The philosopher of scienceThomas Kuhn argues in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions with respect to theCopernican Revolution that people are unlikely to jettison an unworkable paradigm, despite many indications that the paradigm is not functioning properly, until a better paradigm can be presented.
  • Heraclitan: The Greek philosopher Heraclitus used the metaphor of a river to speak of change thus, “On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow” (DK22B12). What Heraclitus seems to be suggesting here, later interpretations notwithstanding, is that, in order for the river to remain the river, change must constantly be taking place. Thus one may think of the Heraclitan model as parallel to that of a living organism, which, in order to remain alive, must constantly be changing. A contemporary application of this approach is shown in the social change theory SEED-SCALE which builds off of the Complexity Theory subfield of Emergence.
  • Daoist: The Chinese philosophical work Dao De Jing, I.8 and II.78 uses the metaphor of water as the ideal agent of change. Water, although soft and yielding, will eventually wear away stone. Change in this model is to be natural, harmonious and steady, albeit imperceptible.
  • Resource-based economyJacque Fresco‘s concept of a resource-based economy that replaces the need for the current monetary economy, which is “scarcity-oriented” or “scarcity-based”. Fresco argues that the world is rich in natural resources and energy and that — with modern technology and judicious efficiency — the needs of the global population can be met with abundance, while at the same time removing the current limitations of what is deemed possible due to notions of economic viability. Fresco’s work in The Venus Project deals with physical reality and natural law rather than econoopictmic abstractions. The Venus Project‘s website says this: “The Venus Project is neither Utopian nor Orwellian, nor does it reflect the dreams of impractical idealists. Instead, it presents attainable goals requiring only the intelligent application of what we already know.”[3]

An excellent work on this topic is in the book ” Social Change  and Modernity”


Pasar tradisional (01)
PASAR TRADISIONAL (02) Isn’t it cosy to shop in the evening after office hours……

These colored pictures essentially do not show much difference with those b/w pictures in the Youtube film mentioned above. And, by the way, you can have good food too in stalls at the PASAR TRADISIONAL (taking care of the hygienic conditions prevailing at those stalls).

Here I make an intermezzo and show you two Youtube films, Jakarta 1955 and  Jakarta 1965 where the last mentiopned film  was actually during a DANGEROUS and to some innocent people a very CRUEL time, however no horrors are shown in this film here now.

OK, therefore, one may put the question : Who are those Indonesians who experience THE SOCIAL CHANGE ?  To try to answer that question I had to consult Wikipedia again and found that it is needed to do an (amateur) sociological discourse again, and let us take the account of what  MAX WEBER has to bring leaving aside the KARL MARX description  :


Max Weber formulated a three-component theory of stratification, that saw political power as an interplay between “class”, “status” and “group power”. Weber believed that class position was determined by a person’s skills and education, rather than by their relationship to the means of production. Both Marx and Weber agreed that social stratification was undesirable, however where Marx believed that stratification would only disappear along with capitalism and private property, Weber believed that the solution lay in providing “equal opportunity” within a competitive, capitalist system.[14][15]

Weber derived many of his key concepts on social stratification by examining the social structure of Germany. He noted that contrary to Marx’s theories, stratification was based on more than simply ownership of capital. Weber examined how many members of the aristocracy lacked economic wealth yet had strong political power. Many wealthy families lacked prestige and power, for example, because they were Jewish. Weber introduced three independent factors that form his theory of stratification hierarchy; class, status, and power:[16]

  • Class: A person’s economic position in a society. Weber differs from Marx in that he does not see this as the supreme factor in stratification. Weber noted how managers of corporations or industries control firms they do not own.
  • Status: A person’s prestige, social honor, or popularity in a society. Weber noted that political power was not rooted in capital value solely, but also in one’s individual status. Poets or saints, for example, can possess immense influence on society with often little economic worth.
  • Power: A person’s ability to get their way despite the resistance of others. For example, individuals in state jobs, such as an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or a member of the United States Congress, may hold little property or status but they still hold immense power


The common three-stratum model

Today, concepts of social class often assume three general categories: a very wealthy and powerful upper class that owns and controls the means of production; a middle class of professional workers, small business owners, and low-level managers; and a lower class, who rely on low-paying wage jobs for their livelihood and often experience poverty.

Upper class

Main article: Upper class
See also: EliteAristocracy, and Oligarchy

The upper class[17] is the social class composed of those who are wealthy, well-born, or both. They usually wield the greatest political power. In some countries, wealth alone is sufficient to allow entry into the upper class. In others, only people born into certain aristocratic bloodlines are considered members of the upper class, and those who gain great wealth through commercial activity are looked down upon as nouveau riche. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Upper Classes are the aristocracy and royalty, with wealth playing a less important role in class status. Many Aristocratic Peerages Titles have ‘seats’ attached to them, with the holder of the title (e.g. Earl of Bristol) and his family being the custodians of the house, but not the owners. Many of these require high expenditures, so wealth is typically needed. Many Aristocratic Peerages and their homes are parts of estates, owned and run by the title holder with moneys generated by the land, rents, or other sources wealth. In America, however, where there is no aristocracy or royalty, the Upper Class status belongs to the extremely wealthy, the so-called ‘super-rich’, though there is some tendency even in America for those with old family wealth to look down on those who have earned their money in business, the struggle between New Money and Old Money.

The upper class is generally contained within the wealthiest 1 or 2 percent of the population. Members of the upper class are often born into it, and are distinguished by immense wealth which is passed from generation to generation in the form of estates.[18] Sometimes members of the upper class are called “the one percent”.

Middle class

Main articles: Middle class and Bourgeoisie

The middle class is the most contested of the three categorizations, the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the lower and upper classes.[19] One example of the contestation of this term is that in the United States “middle class” is applied very broadly and includes people who would elsewhere be considered lower class. Middle class workers are sometimes called “white-collar workers“.

Theorists such as Ralf Dahrendorf have noted the tendency toward an enlarged middle class in modern Western societies, particularly in relation to the necessity of an educated work force in technological economies.[20] Perspectives concerning globalization andneocolonialism, such as dependency theory, suggest this is due to the shift of low-level labour to developing nations and the Third World.[21]

Lower class

In the United States the lowest stratum of the working class, the underclass, often lives in urban areas with low-quality civil services.

Main articles: Working class and Proletariat

Lower class (occasionally described as working class) are those employed in low-paying wage jobs with very little economic security.

The working class is sometimes separated into those who are employed but lacking financial security, and an underclass—those who are long-term unemployed and/orhomeless, especially those receiving welfare from the state. The latter is analogous to the Marxist term lumpenproletariat.[17] Members of the working class are sometimes called blue-collar workers.

In the United States, the terms working class and blue-collar may refer to employed and hard-working members of the middle-middle and lower-middle class, while the upper-middle class in the United States often refers to employment positions that require a college or graduate degree.

BY THE WAY ……..  as usual is the case : I’d like to find out to what “class”  I might belong, and yes I agree, I belong to the middle class, the Indonesian Middle Class. However as far as I can see, me and my direct family members as well as my extended family members have ever since I remember not experienced a significant social as well as material change. For instance if you look at this Pre WW II picture of the younger extended family  members who were living in our house in Batavia (1940), and compare it withe those who are in the video made last Christmas (you only have to click an the picture to see this video). You will see that only those who have been able to  over live have grown older but no significant change in living standard.

The young people in our house 1940
The young people in our house 1940. me sitting front left.

This is just an example and meant to be as an indication only…… but when you look at the following pictures I made at the big POIN SQUARE MALL cum Apartment building, with a big GIANT Supermarket and a big part for “Micro” stalls you will see that here the social change is visible.

The facade of the POIN SQUARE Complex.
The facade of the POIN’S SQUARE Complex (from the internet)
Burgers getting popular
Burgers getting popular ……..
Modern women's lifestyle
Modern women’s lifestyle……
Shopping for personal needs. all made in Indonesia
Shopping for personal needs. all made in Indonesia……
Shopping for food cooking at home....
Shopping for food cooking at home….

Hopefully Indonesian coffee beans ......Hopefully Indonesian coffee beans …….


My humble conclusion is that it is that it is that a great part of the working class of Indonesia has moved to the NEW MIDDLE CLASS …….  A probable explanation will be in my next posting :

JAKARTA, city of the thousand malls (3), “Analysis of the Birth of the NEW Indonesian Middle Class” 


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