is a conception of sociality familiar to large parts of Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...
. The phrase has been translated into English in many ways, most of which harken to the conception of reciprocity or mutual aid. For M. Nasroen
M. Nasroen was an Indonesian scholar in the field of philosophy. He is most famous for having identified and classified Indonesian philosophy as being separate and different from Western and Eastern philosophy...
, gotong royong
forms one of the core tenets of Indonesian philosophy. Paul Michael Taylor and Lorraine V. Aragon state that "gotong royong
[is] cooperation among many people to attain a shared goal."
In a 1983 essay Clifford Geertz
Clifford James Geertz was an American anthropologist who is remembered mostly for his strong support for and influence on the practice of symbolic anthropology, and who was considered "for three decades...the single most influential cultural anthropologist in the United States." He served until...
points to the importance of gotong royong
in Indonesian life:
An enormous inventory of highly specific and often quite intricate institutions for effecting the cooperation in work, politics, and personal relations alike, vaguely gathered under culturally charged and fairly well indefinable value-images--rukun ("mutual adjustment"), gotong royong ("joint bearing of burdens"), tolong-menolong ("reciprocal assistance")--governs social interaction with a force as sovereign as it is subdued.
Anthropologist Robert A. Hahn writes:
Javanese culture is stratified by social class and by level of adherence to Islam. ...Traditional Javanese culture does not emphasize material wealth. ...There is respect for those who contribute to the general village welfare over personal gain. And the spirit of gotong royong, or volunteerism, is promoted as a cultural value.
has long functioned as the scale of the village, as a moral conception of the political economy. However, as the political economy became more privatized, capitalistic, and individualistic, gotong royong
has probably waned. Pottier records the impact of the Green Revolution
Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production around the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s....
in Java: "Before the GR, 'Java' had relatively 'open' markets, in which many local people were rewarded in kind. With the GR, rural labour markets began to foster 'exclusionary practices'... This resulted in a general loss of rights, especially secure harvesting rights within a context of mutual cooperation, known as gotong royong.
" Citing Ann Stoler's ethnography from the 1970s, Pottier writes that that cash was replacing exchange, that old patron-client ties were breaking, and that social relations were becoming characterized more by employer-employee qualities.
For Prime Minister Muhammad Natsir
Mohammad Natsir was a Islamic scholar and politician. He was Indonesia's fifth prime minister.After moving to Bandung from his hometown Solok, West Sumatra for senior high school, Natsir studied Islamic doctrine extensively. His first articles were published in 1929, and during the 1930s he wrote...
, gotong royong
was an ethical principle of sociality, in marked contrast to both the "unchecked" feudalism of the West, and the social anomie
Anomie is a term meaning "without Law" to describe a lack of social norms; "normlessness". It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community ties, with fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values. It was popularized by French...
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...
Ideas of reciprocity, ancient and deeply enmeshed aspects of kampung
morality, were seized upon by postcolonial politicians. John Sidel writes: "Ironically, national-level politicians drew on " village conceptions of adat
Adat in Indonesian-Malay culture is the set of cultural norms, values, customs and practices found among specific ethnic groups in Indonesia, the southern Philippines and Malaysia...
and gotong royong. They drew on notions "of traditional community to justify new forms of authoritarian rule."
During the presidency of Sukarno
Sukarno, born Kusno Sosrodihardjo was the first President of Indonesia.Sukarno was the leader of his country's struggle for independence from the Netherlands and was Indonesia's first President from 1945 to 1967...
, the idea of gotong royong
was officially elevated to a central tenet of Indonesian life. For Sukarno, the new nation was to be synonymous with gotong royong
. He said that the Pancasila
could be reduced to the idea of gotong royong
. On June 1, 1945, Sukarno said of the Pancasila:
The first two principles, nationalism and internationalism, can be pressed to one, which I used to call 'socionationalism.' Similarly with democracy 'which is not the democracy of the West' together with social justice for all can be pressed down to one, and called socio democracy. Finally - belief in God. 'And so what originally was five has become three: socio nationalism, socio democracy, and belief in God.' 'If I press down five to get three, and three to get one, then I have a genuine Indonesian term - GOTONG ROYONG [mutual co-operation]. The state of Indonesia which we are to establish should be a state of mutual co-operation. How fine that is ! A Gotong Royong state!
In 1960, Sukarno dissolved the elected parliament and implemented the Gotong Royong
Governor of Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...
, Ali Sadikin
Ali Sadikin was an Indonesian politician. He was often called Bang Ali. He served as the governor of Jakarta, the country's capital, from 1966 to 1977. Appointed by a weak Sukarno, he likely had the full approval of Suharto. A former marine, he saw the city as a battlefield...
, spoke of a desire to reinvigorate urban areas with village sociality, with gotong royong
Suharto's New Order was characterized by much discourse about tradition.
During the New Order, Siskamling harnessed the idea of gotong royong.
By the 1990s, if not sooner, gotong royong
had been "fossilized" by New Order sloganeering.
During the presidency of Megawati, the Gotong Royong Cabinet
The Mutual Assistance Cabinet was the Indonesian Cabinet which served under President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Vice President Hamzah Haz from 9 August 2001 until 20 October 2004...
was implemented. It lasted from 2001-4.
Bayanihan is a Filipino term taken from the word bayan, referring to a nation, country, town or community. The whole term bayanihan refers to a spirit of communal unity or effort to achieve a particular objective...
, a Filipino concept of mutual aid, possibly linked to gotong royong.
Dugnad is a Norwegian term for voluntary work done together with other people. In a tradition similar to that of barn raising, community members meet to help an individual, or club members meet to build a clubhouse or get necessary jobs done for a family in need. Participation in a dugnad is often...
Meitheal is the Irish word for a work team, gang, or party and denotes the co-operative labour system in rural Ireland where groups of neighbours help each other in turn with farming work, such as harvesting crops...
Naffīr is an Arabic word used in parts of Sudan to describe particular types of communal work undertakings. Naffīr has been described as including a group recruited through family networks, in-laws and village neighbors for some particular purpose, which then disbands when that purpose is...
Talkoot is a Finnish expression for a gathering of friends and neighbors to accomplish a task, similar to a bee or a barn raising in English....
Gadugi is a term used in the Cherokee language which means "working together" or "cooperative labor" within a community.Historically, the word referred to a labor gang, of men and/or women, working together for projects such as harvesting crops or tending to gardens of elderly or infirm tribal...
- Gotong royong (Indonesia and Malaysia)