Ternatan/Tidorese - Sociopolitical Organization

Ternate and Tidore now are part of the national state of Indonesia. Their sultanates have ceased to exist.

Social Organization. Ternatan and Tidorese identify themselves by means of descent from one of the traditional units of sociopolitical organization, soa, each soa having its own name. The meaning of "soa" is literally "ward," "quarter," or "hamlet," but the soa were by no means pure territorial units. One did not belong to a soa on account of residence but rather on account of descent. Membership in a soa was transmitted in the patriline. The soa was not a clan or lineage, however, because the members of the soa did not claim a common descent from one ancestor and because the kinship organization is not unilinear but cognatic. The soa was headed by a chief who was appointed by the sultan. With the abolition of the sultanates, the soa as units of sociopolitical organization have become obsolete; they are no longer accepted by the government as units of administration, and they do not have a function in the field of kinship organization. The soa chiefs have been replaced by democratically chosen village chiefs.

Political Organization. Since Ternate and Tidore are part of the Indonesian state, the political organization is the same as everywhere else in Indonesia. All government employees are members of Golkar, a semipolitical grouping that is closely related to the government. In the elections one can vote for Golkar or for one of the two other political groupings in parliament. When there are no elections for parliament coming up, political parties are almost completely inactive.

Social Control. Social control is exercised by neighbors, fellow villagers, and members of the family. Generally violators of commonly accepted norms are not dealt with too harshly, provided that the transgression of the norm is done in an inconspicuous way. If people feel forced by a public scandal to maintain the norms, measures tend to be taken without delay. For example, young people who have been caught in the act of extramarital intercourse are immediately forced to marry, more often than not after a severe beating.

Conflict. Ternatan and Tidorese are not aggressive people. If they do not like other people, they tend to avoid them rather than fight with them. People of foreign origin are easily integrated into the society, provided they profess Islam.

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