Most studies of Indonesian youth are not sociological but written from within the disciplines of: anthropology (Smith-Hefner 2006), human geography (Beazley 2003), demography (Utomo 2002), political science (Juliastuti 2006) or cultural studies (Baulch 2007). The concept of ‘middle-class youth’ is often employed, yet not defined. This paper seeks to explore the trends between ‘class position’, educational opportunities and life aspirations using survey data from 3327 Indonesian youth1. The term ‘class’ here refers to a discrete group of people defined in the general sense by their relationship to the means of production, and in the specific sense by the amount of control they have over various forms of capital, especially economic and cultural capital. Claims for the ‘death of class’ (Pakulski and Waters 1996), and arguments that class is a ‘zombie category’ (Beck and Willms, 2004: 24) are popular. Certainly in western countries social stratification often eludes traditional class definitions. In the ‘risk society’ (Beck 1992) - the contemporary borderless ‘space of flows’ (Castells 1997) - our subject positions in life are not fixed, but constantly reinvented and constructed within a relentless discourse of choice (Giddens 1991: 81; Tulloch and Lupton 2003: 61). Accordingly, contemporary youth tend to understand setbacks in the life trajectory as individual inadequacies, rather than as outcomes of social and economic processes that sustain inequality (Furlong and Cartmel 1997: 4). Yet lack of recognition of one’s class.
The Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA): Re-imagining Sociology. TASA 2008 Conference Proceedings: Re-imagining Sociology (Melbourne, Vic. 2-5 December, 2008)