From The Jakarta Post

The beliefs and values of Indonesians today

Debnath Guharoy,

Change is not particularly welcome, regardless of sex or level of education, in Indonesia. About four out of five people believe that there is "too much change going on these days".

The same number are "environmentalists at heart", with more than half the population trying to "recycle everything I can".

These are facts that may come as a surprise to people from Western cultures, where shopping bags are not saved for reuse.

This report dwells on who Indonesians are as people. The information is based on Roy Morgan Single Source, a national survey with 25,000 respondents annually, covering 90 percent of Indonesia's population over the age of 14.

This is a deeply religious country where 90 percent of the population agrees that "religion is an important part of everyday life".

Three out of four Indonesians "regularly go to my place of worship". We all know the position that major religions take on homosexuality and the influence, therefore, on all the faithful.

Above all, people want security in their lives, as well as in their jobs. Then comes the desire for "a full social life" -- witness the ever-popular arisan. Around 78 percent have visited or entertained friends or relatives in the last three months. Sports are not a way of life, but soccer is the dominant game. With most women above the age of 25 married and not working, 87 percent of housewives "love to cook" and 86 percent work until the home is "neat and tidy".

Not surprisingly, 73 percent enjoy doing their grocery shopping too. Dressmaking at home is very popular with the ladies, as is gardening. One out of four people have a pet at home, including, of course, those in extended families.

All concerned, regardless of race, will be pleased to know that 89 percent consider themselves "Indonesians" first, not Batak or Sundanese or any other grouping. Around three out of four people believe they are extroverts, almost 73 percent are hedonists who "really want to enjoy things now because I know what the future will bring", and 88 percent believe that "success is important to me." In sharp contrast, 64 percent of the population would like "things to stay the same!"

Personal beliefs such as these have an influence on Roy Morgan Values Segments, a socio-economic map of the country, produced in conjunction with Colin Benjamin of the Horizon Network. To a sociologist or a marketer, the map is a more sensitive tool to understand society or the marketplace than is household expenditure, the old one-dimensional socio-economic strata that Indonesia has lived with for many years.

At the top-end of the economic scale are the groups "Achievement" at 8 percent and "Socially Aware" at 1 percent, both equally affluent and with real disposable incomes. The difference between the two groups lies in their values. For example, "Vas" are more conservative, "SAs" more liberal.

In the U.S., the first group would likely be Republicans, the second group likely to be Democrats. At the heart of any society is "The Family", and Indonesia, a vibrant young country, has 34 percent of its population in the youthful group, "Conventional Family Life".

In contrast, an aging Australia has only 9 percent. Similarly, self-focussed teenagers in Indonesia account for 21 percent of society, followed by the third largest group comprising older parents and grandparents, "Family Life" with 13 percent.

At the bottom of the socio-economic scale are "Fairer Deal" at 6 percent and "Basic Needs", the first struggling to build a future and the latter in their twilight years, keeping their heads above water.

Significantly, only 2 percent of Indonesia is in "Basic Needs", simply because very few older folk live on their own in Asia, in contrast to western societies.

Final-year students and first-jobbers with rose-tinted glasses form the "Young Optimism" group with 1.4 percent, while older professionals in "Something Better" at 1.6 percent are looking for their next promotion, their next raise. "Real Conservatives" with fundamentalist views make up the rest with 12 percent of the population.

The contributor is an advertising professional turned researcher and consultant, based in Melbourne. He has lived and worked across the Asia Pacific region, including Indonesia.

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