Javanese - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities . Java has a dual economy with industrial and peasant sectors. The Dutch established plantations based on a Western model of business Organization. This segment of the economy is now concerned with estate agriculture, mining, and industry. It is highly capitalized and it produces primarily for export. Wet-rice agriculture is the principal activity of the peasant economy; fishing is important in coastal villages. Animal husbandry is not developed for want of space. A number of dry-season crops are produced for sale, and there are also some small-scale cottage industries and a local market system.

Industrial Arts. Small-scale industries are not well developed because of problems in capital, distribution, and marketing. Cottage industries in Central Java Province are silver work, batik, handweaving, and the manufacture of native cigarettes.

Trade. There are local markets, each servicing four to five villages throughout rural Java. The retailers are usually women.

Division of Labor. Javanese are primarily farmers, local traders, and skilled artisans. Intermediate trade and small industry are dominated by foreign Asians, and the large plantations and industries are owned by Europeans. In precolonial Java, the population was divided between royalty, with its court and the nobility, and the peasantry. Two more classes emerged under colonialism and with the development of administrative centers. These classes are landless laborers and government officials, or prijaji. The prijaji are generally urban and there are several statuses. In rural areas farming remains the predominant occupation. Some people engage in craft specializations and trade but these occupations are usually part-time. The majority of everyone's time is spent on farming. In rural areas learned professionals such as teachers, spiritual leaders, and puppeteers are usually people from affluent families. These latter occupations have considerable prestige but they are also practiced only part-time. Local and central government officials have the highest prestige.

Land Tenure. Traditionally much of the land was held communally and communities recruited corvée (unpaid labor) for the king, the nobility, or the colonial government. Even today, communal land is reserved for schools, roads, and cemeteries and for support of the village headman and his staff. The corvée consisted of a group of villagers ( kuli ), who constituted the productive labor force of the village. Communal land was allotted for usufruct as compensation to the kuli. In some places the kuli became a hereditary status included with the inheritance of the land. In addition, many Javanese villages have tracts of communal land allotted to the population for usufruct on a rotating basis. Individual holdings are small.

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