Securing the Majority: social and political change in Jakarta

Submitting Institution

Goldsmiths' College

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Human Geography, Sociology

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Summary of the impact

Simone's research has contributed to the building of a comprehensive knowledge base on changing residential patterns, investment history, local economies, and social power relations in fourteen districts of North and Central Jakarta. The richness of the knowledge he has generated and its influence on urban redevelopment and restructuring in Jakarta are a consequence of both his close collaboration with a number of institutional partners in Indonesia and their direct engagements with community residents, social action groups, architects, researchers and government decision makers. Through a variety of deliberative forums the results of his process oriented research and collaboration have been influential in a number of ways including the preparation of new housing legislation, the writing of a policy platform of a coalition of civic organizations and the consultative processes on a Spatial Plan for Jakarta. But perhaps most significantly the impact of his research is its contribution to identifying and giving voice to a range of possible future scenarios that are usually left out of policy deliberations and the collective imaginary of the city.

Underpinning research

Simone was appointed as Professor at Goldsmiths in January 2006 (1.0 fte) and is now 0.2 fte. His research has been undertaken in the context of immense urban, social and political change and uncertainty in Jakarta. New transportation systems and improved infrastructures are needed to meet the demands of rapid economic growth. But the land required for these projects mean significant disruption to and transformation of the economic, social and built environments of central city districts. Dislocation and affordability threaten lives and livelihoods that have flourished for decades in these districts. Simone's research has analysed and documented the historic organisation of these districts and in relation to this identified forms of social mobilization and governance capable of maintaining the capacities of these districts to support and combine diverse ways of life.

Historically, Simone has documented how Jakarta, like many central city areas of Asia, Latin America, and Africa, is made up of mixed-income, mixed-use districts that continue to be important facets of the urban economy. The mixture developed at first in relation to the physical environment in its articulation with topographic features, such as rivers and riverbeds, swamps, watersheds, uplands and lowlands. Over time, thoroughfares such as railways, streets, lanes, alleys, pathways, ramps and overpasses came to shape the development of what is now a richly mixed urban fabric. In the Jakarta districts of Kemorayan, Padamangan, Galur, Anyar, or Senen, for example, almost every street has a different mix of bungalows that have remained the same for decades. These exist alongside varying gradations of rehabilitation, rebuilding and new construction that have ensued from new residents buying out former ones, or long-term residents deploying their savings. Rental accommodation of all standards across central districts has also flourished.

These residential spaces are commonly folded into commercial ones, as are various uses of commercial space including retail, repair, storage, and production. Distinct forms of residential areas open up onto each other in jarring proximity. There are cottage, household based industries, small- scale workshops employing 10-30 workers on variable hourly and monthly contracts, as well as piecework, and small factories that consolidate discrete individual producers into a cooperative arrangement to produce particular items at sale for short periods of time. There are complex subcontracting arrangements, from major producers that tie together scores of small cottage industries. There are neighbourhood-based associations that specialize in one line of production, or where each has their own specialty.

Simone has documented how urban redevelopment and restructuring pose a threat to these vibrant mixed use districts especially as many residents and businesses will have to be relocated. The development of new industries and services at the periphery of the capital region will provide employment, commercial and housing opportunities for a portion of displaced residents. But many existing commercial activities, such as vehicle repair and servicing, textile production, marketing, business services, and retailing, depend on their location in the city centre, and the density of commercial and social relationships that this location affords. A significant proportion of the existing resident base of these districts may well have the capacity to relocate their social and economic lives to other areas of the city. Many have already done so over the past two decades. But an equally significant proportion is heavily dependent upon their current location and would not have the means to relocate successfully without substantial government assistance or compensation. While increased emphasis on high-density, vertical development is probably inevitable in terms of accommodating relocated residents, the always-challenging problem of affordability remains. Simone's research has demonstrated that severe disruption of existing local economies and commercial activities will likely compound these problems of dislocation and affordability, and that it is therefore necessary to understand how these local economies operate today, and how they can be replicated or remade within new sites.

To that end, Simone's research focuses on understanding how these districts have become places of intensive material and social heterogeneity, their relationships to the larger urban system, and aspects of these relationships that exert particular possibilities and constraints. Beginning in 2009, these objectives have been pursued through a collaborative project with several partners located in Indonesia. The project is ongoing and involves the Program in Urban Development and Real Estate Management of the University of Tarumanagara (funded by the Tarumanagara Foundation) and the Rujak Centre for Urban Studies (RCUS), facilitated by grants from the Open Society, Hivos (an International Development organisation), and the European Commission. Through this collaboration and a process-based approach to research, Simone has pursued his research objectives using multiple methods including community mapping, household surveys, ethnographic observation, focus groups, social action engagement with local governance practices, and institutional profiling. With this approach he has contributed to the making of a comprehensive knowledge base on the socioeconomic composition of fourteen districts located in North and Central Jakarta, the range of economic capacities of resident households, the degrees of change in the residential composition of these districts, and the understandings of a sample of residents themselves. But most significantly, his research has identified forms of social mobilization and governance capable of maintaining the capacities of these central districts to support and combine diverse ways of life in the midst of immense urban, social and political change. While focused on Jakarta the research has relevance for the analysis and understanding of redevelopment and restructuring in cities in the global South.

References to the research

Evidence of quality of the research: References 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 are published in internationally recognised peer reviewed journals. Reference 3 is a book published by an international press. As one reviewer states, "The book's topic, originality, and ambition should make it required reading for urbanists as well as scholars of development and globalization' (Contemporary Sociology).

Simone has written a number of scholarly publications and disseminated his research at major international forums, including:

1. Simone, A. and V. Rao (2011) `Securing the Majority: Living with Uncertainty in Jakarta,' International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2427.2011.01028.x. (REF output)


2. Simone, A. (2010) `2009 Urban Geography Plenary Lecture: On Intersections, Anticipations and Provisional Publics: Remaking District Life in Jakarta,' Urban Geography 31: 285-308. (REF output)


3. Simone, A. (2009) City Life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the Crossroads. New York: Routledge. (REF output)


4. Simone, A. and A. U. Fauzan. (2012) `Making Security Work for the Majority: Reflections on Two Districts in Jakarta,' City & Society 24: 129-149. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-744X.2012.01072.x


5. Simone, A, and A. Uzair Fauzan (2013) `On the way to being middle class: The practices of emergence in Jakarta', City 17(3). DOI: 10.1080/13604813.2013.795331


6. Simone, A. and A. U. Fauzan (2013), Majority time: operations in the midst of Jakarta. The Sociological Review, 61: 109-123. DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.12056


7. The project organised and hosted an international colloquium, Sustainable Future for Jakarta, University of Tarumanagara, October 11, 2010; and an international workshop involving prominent urban scholars, activists, and policymakers, with the assistance of the Global Studies Program of the University of Minnesota, 16-20 March 2012.

Details of the impact

A key objective of Simone's research is to make visible the urbanization processes, residential histories and social compositions that are usually left out of policy deliberations and the collective imaginary of the city. Through his collaborative project with institutional partners, [8][9] he has made concerted efforts to insert his research findings into a wide range of deliberative settings, including informal deliberations with the Governor of Jakarta. This has been achieved through the project's two-pronged strategy of public workshops, media dissemination and advocacy, combined with informal, unofficial discussions with various ministries and municipal departments with Jakarta management responsibilities. The strategy is an attempt to access more expanded opportunities for knowledge production but also to affect life in the districts being studied for the better.

One example of the public engagement strategy is the project's role in public forums on issues of governance. The present structure of Jakarta urban governance is untenable in the long run. Excessive power and competencies are located at the largest and smallest scales, with diffuse functions and responsibilities in between. New local government legislation has been identified as a necessity in order to reconfigure powers and scales along with new formal mechanisms of accountability and decision-making. Through their participation in a city-wide citizen's forum Koalisi Warga untuk Jakarta 2030, the project has incorporated research findings into deliberations on governance issues and contributed to popularising the processes and politics of restructuring.[10] Through the consistent engagement of the local press the project's textured understanding of existing local political dynamics has been widely disseminated.[11] Visibility and attention to these dynamics and political relationships at the local level are significant because of their economic implications. Political relationships give residents varying opportunities to accumulate per diem payments, small cash grants, tenders, contracts, and equipment and have a direct bearing on how different economic activities are connected and where they are situated spatially.

Another example of public engagement is the project's use of a range of social media sites to engage a wider citizen audience in the identification of places, networks, and facilities that are underutilized, and those that have excess capacity that goes to waste simply because resources tend to accumulate in specific `basins' formed through a dense nexus of advantageous political connections and distributions.[12] The project has been especially concerned with creating mechanisms to enhance productive relationships amongst different spheres of influence and resource use in response to a trend for local associations to be formed explicitly to capture development funds. These funds are then used to capture particular territories, loyalties, or business sectors. For that purpose, workshops were conducted with the kelurahan (district level governments) in each of the 14 research districts, including Kebong Kesong, Penjaringan, Warakas, Kampung Raya, Tanah Tinggi, Utan Panjang, Serdang, Sumar Baru, Serdang, Cempaka Baru, Harapan Mulya, and Padamanagan Timur during September-November 2010.[13]

The project was also the subject of deliberations amongst a cross-section of journalists, activists, and academics organized through Komunitas Salihara, one of the city's primary public affairs centres, in November 2010.[14] Project findings have been incorporated into deliberations on the part of the national ministry of housing in preparation for new legislation on housing and human settlements.[15] It has been used to elaborate a platform of policy proposals from a coalition of civic organizations for the gubernatorial elections of 2011, as well as efforts to contribute to consultative processes organized around the development of the Spatial Plan for Jakarta during 2009-2010.

Impact has also been achieved through working group activities. Between August 2009 and September 2010, the University of Tarumanagara and the International Urban Development Association (INTA) organized a framework of consultations between researchers, planners, municipal officials and developers. This is now the basis for ongoing working group discussions between a network of public architects and the planning staff of Bappeda di Jakarta (the regional body for planning and development). The project was also the basis for a public city wide forum, Warga Masih Miskin, for municipal officials and civil society organizations held at the Taman Ismail Marzuki in July 2008, as well as the international forum organized by Erasmus House, Open City Jakarta in September 2010. [16]

Finally, a critical dimension of the project in North Jakarta has been its affiliation with the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) - an umbrella of community-based organizations - to popularize the research work in areas experiencing marked contestation and change. Through UPC, residential activist groups have been integrated into the research process, for example by leading discussion groups and gathering information.[17]

It is through these many activities and engagements involving the co-construction of knowledge and as part of a multidisciplinary collaborative project that Simone's research has and continues to have an impact on urban redevelopment and restructuring in Jakarta.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Hard or electronic copies of the resources below can be provided on request, by Goldsmiths Research Office.

  1. Collaborator: Prof Jo Santoso, Director, Program in Urban Development and Real Estate Management, University of Tarumanagara.
  2. Collaborator: Marco Kusumawijaya, Director of the Rujak Centre for Urban Studies.
  3. Citizens Forum: Koalisi Warga untuk Jakarta 2030.
  4. Local Press: Article in the Jakarta Post on Simone's work (01/08/2008): "Foreign expert on urbanism develops passion for Jakarta". Article written by Simone and Abang in the Jakarta Post (05/08/2009): "Unraveling the urban fabric: Jakarta's textile network"
  5. Social media example.
  6. Corroboration of one of the workshops held in the 14 districts from a representative of the United Nations Program on Human Settlements (UN Habitat) can be provided on request to Goldsmiths Research Office.
  7. Corroboration that Simone's work was the subject of deliberations from a representative of the Komunitas Salihara Board can be provided on request to Goldsmiths Research Office.
  8. Corroboration of incorporation of Simone's work in Ministry of Housing deliberations from a representative can be provided on request to Goldsmiths Research Office.
  9. Open City Jakarta forum.
  10. Urban Poor Consortium.