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Political Economy and Islamic Politics: Insights from the Indonesian Case

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It is argued in this study that the trajectory of Islamic politics in Indonesia has been shaped within larger processes of state formation and socio-economic and political changes associated with the advance of the market economy and the pressures of globalisation. It incorporates the Indonesian case into a vast and well-developed debate that has hitherto focused on North Africa and the Middle East. As such it offers a distinct interpretation that goes beyond the prevailing understanding of Islamic politics in Indonesia as the product of conflicts over ideas, doctrine or culture or the institutional requisites of authoritarianism or democracy. Specifically, it is proposed that Islamic politics has been underpinned variously by the conservatism of small propertied interests, the populism of marginalised urban and small town middle classes and the ambitions of the upper middle classes and business. While these dynamics are found across much of the Muslim world, the political outcomes have been diverse. We show that the Indonesian trajectory has been greatly influenced by the failure of Islamic politics to establish effective cross-class alliances behind the banners of Islam and the ability of the secular state to effectively establish its own apparatus of populist politics.
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Keywords: Capitalism; Indonesia; Islam; Political Economy; Populism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Murdoch,6150, Western Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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