Waiting for the Call to Prayer: Exploitation, Accumulation and Social Reproduction in Rural Java

Jonathan Pattenden, Mia Wastuti

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This article analyses processes of exploitation, accumulation and social reproduction in rural Java through fieldwork in two villages – one primarily agrarian and the other predominantly non-agrarian. In doing so it underlines the ways in which pluri-active labouring class households contribute to processes of accumulation through a variety of forms of petty self-employment and precarious informal wage-labour. One key mechanism of exploitation is highlighted in each village. In the largely non-agrarian village, female homework is highlighted. This was its most common form of wage-labour, interwoven seamlessly with reproductive labour. In the primarily agrarian village, sharecropping, a form of disguised wage-labour, was the primary mechanism of exploitation. In this village there were no capitalist paddy farmers, and agrarian accumulation was dominated by traders and absentee capitalist landowners. A third mechanism of exploitation - usurious moneylending - is discussed in relation to both villages. Accumulation in the villages is mapped, and attention is paid to how forms of exploitation are located in intra-capitalist relations, particularly the relationship of petty capitalism to capital-in-general. The article briefly discusses the potential for labouring class collective action given the villages’ relatively flat social structures with over 80 per cent of the population occupying a similar socio-economic position.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Peasant Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jul 2021

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