Social organisation, external linkages, and communication in Soya

  • Tonny Donald Pariela

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    Soya village is located in the peripheral area of Ambon city, the Capital of Moluccas province. It lies in the Sirimau Regency of the Ambon municipality, in the hills of the Leitimor peninsula beginning six kilometres away from the heart of the city. 

    Even though its location is relatively close to the city and its administration is under the authority of Ambon' s local government, this village, in the eyes of its original people, has been seen as an "adat" village which according to them needs to be preserved. However, the facts show that significant changes have happened in its social structure, in particular during the last three decades. 

    The social transformation which has been taking place in Soya village, basically constitutes the result of the reproduction process through what we might call "day-to-day social interaction" entailing both internal factors and external pressures. Besides this process having created some new institutions, it has also shaped certain responses of the original Soya people towards development policies propagated by the state, as well as shaping responses to the outsiders who have begun living now in its domain areas. 

    Generally, the contemporary pattern of economic behaviour of the original Soya people has been formed through social interaction processes between the people themselves and recent migrants, especially the Butonese. In this context, land constitutes an important medium not just as a means of production through which both the indigenous people and the Butonese are able to share its products, but also as a valuable asset with which to obtain access to cash. 

    On the local social stage, the church constitutes an important institution which has produced significant transformation in the basis of social life, especially in term of "collective representations" associated with "adat" as customary practice. Besides the roles of church as a main factor in this regard, the availability of public transportation and communication media, especially TV, and education have also had a strong effect upon the "woridview" of Soya people. Therefore, their local identity, step by step, has been transformed, a process in which their traditional moral norms have become altered. 

    In political life, Soya people have been facing external pressures regarding the obligation to implement the new national structure of village government system, while their "adat" system of governance is still in existence. This in turn, causes a condition of uncertainty to emerge, and has indirectly had significant implications for the role of the church, the position of which has been reinforced. 

    Similar to the situation in other developing countries, the national development programs in Indonesia were based strongly on the assumptions of the modernisation paradigm when they were created. Indeed, they were aimed primarily to improve the standard of living through economic development planning. However, despite the fact that the benefits of the development programs have been enjoyed by people throughout much of Indonesia, this does not mean that there is no "social price" which has to be paid in return. As is showed in this study, the implementation of the modernisation perspective has brought about major changes in local organisations/institutions especially because of the close political control exercised by the state. In other words, the implementation of the programs has failed to call upon the strengths of traditional institutions, and has even constituted unavoidable external pressures which have had a strong influence upon the changing social structure of society. 

    It is argued that in order to filly understand the processes of social transformation which have been happening in a particular area such as Soya village then, a single theory will not be sufficient. This is chiefly because, social facts are usually complicated and can only be understood by using several complementary approaches as a foundation of analysis. This conclusion is associated with the specific attempt of this study to propose an adequate picture of socio-cultural adaptation in the framework of rapid social changes which have been brought about through national and local development programs which have not adequately taken into account local differences.
    Date of Award1995
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Mearns (Supervisor)

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