Subordination of women and lack of industrial strife in west Java

Mather, C.

Southeast Asia: 147-157

1988


Document Number: 422807
Three villages of the Tangerang region, sited on frontier between rural and urban areas in Java, are seen as the source of a cheap and compliant labour force for industry. By recruiting young people, especially young girls, from the villages into the factories, the industrial capitalists are able to make use of the traditional forms of subordination of women to men and youth to age, reinforced by aspects of Islamic ideology, to create a labour force which is cheap and relatively easy to dominate. Wage levels are partly determined by categorization of these young workers as dependants. Once inside the factories, the young girls consistently (and young men occasionally) say that they feel so deferential to their bosses (usually older men) that direct confrontation, individually or in groups, is almost unthinkable. They say that they are too shy to be straightforward about any grievances, too afraid to complain about low pay or unfair treatment, and would rather leave the factory than 'make trouble'. They show an unwillingness, based on their inexperience, to organize together and it is easy for the management to atomize them and isolate one from another, and to dismiss those who 'create scenes' or engage in other types of inappropriate behaviour.

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