Mountain Java in History and Social Theory
This introductory chapter sets out the focus of the book, namely the reshaping of economy and community in one area of Southeast Asia, the Tengger highlands of East Java, Indonesia. The analysis departs from conventional economic approaches in several ways. It emphasizes, first of all, that individuals formulate and interpret their needs in interaction with others around them, rather than in the solitary introspection of neoclassical economics' “sovereign” consumer. Second, the analysis shifts the problem of identity and community to the center of research, recognizing that social practice is guided by a wider range of “commitments” than market utility alone, and by a more complex sense of self. From this perspective, the rational actor of economistic analysis is not so much wrong as woefully overschematized. Third, and finally, a noneconomistic approach to economic change stresses that, whatever their relative autonomy, the market and other economic institutions are ultimately dependent upon the moral, political, and legal institutions of society as a whole. The chapter then discusses social change in Java.
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