Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Nancy Hudson-Rodd

Second Supervisor

Dr Jim Wicks


This research was conducted in order to address two major research questions: 1) To what extent and in what ways are a cohort of female factory workers in Sundanese West Java influential in the cultural, social and economic development of the geographic area in which they live and more specifically within their own households? 2) To what extent does the Indonesian state support or inhibit such development? In order to answer these and other secondary research questions I conducted qualitative and quantitative research. I used a theoretical framework which directed the methodology, questionnaires and both qualitative and quantitative data was collected whilst in the field in rural West Java. In this thesis I studied a cohort of female factory workers from rural West Java. The research provides more accurate data on the household status and position of young women involved in the industrialisation process in West Java and provides a better understanding of the outcomes and problems of this same process on a regional and national level. 323 women were included in the study, as were their families, during eight months fieldwork carried out in 1996/97 in Banjaran, West Java. This region is undergoing rapid industrial development and as a result is absorbing tens of thousands of young women from traditional lifestyles into factory employment. This transition has significant implications for the status of women in the region, and in Indonesia in general. The measurement of the impacts of industrial capitalism (positive and negative) upon the household, village, regional and national status of such women is the most important way in which this research analyses the implications of factory employment upon women's lives. I argue that Sundanese factory women are extremely important to their household and nation and without their loyalty to both, industrial development would not be successful in contemporary Indonesia. However, Indonesian factory women are heavily inhibited by a repressive and corrupt state. I have argued in this thesis that, more than any other factor (globalisation, modernisation, capitalism), the state in Indonesia is the most inhibitive phenomenon interfering with factory women's ability to share in the benefits of development and at the same time forge a new and improved status for themselves and others. More specifically, the state in Indonesia is structurally organised within strict and traditionally-oriented patriarchal parameters. The failure of this patriarchy to protect its own female factory workers, while at the same time making huge profits from their hard work, is at the centre of discussion within this thesis. It is ironic that this same state (patriarchy) demands the loyalty, discipline and respect of Indonesian women and places the responsibility for the successful development of Indonesian society and economy fairly on their shoulders. However, at the same time, state elites benefit enormously from factory women and women in general, yet provide them no protection and allow only a few to honestly share in the benefits of development. The position of Sundanese factory women vis-a-vis the state and industrial capitalism is discussed with the aid of major development theories, original research and data from similar studies to cement clearly in the minds of the readers the notion that, more than any other factor, the Indonesian state is failing most Indonesian people and specifically failing Indonesian factory women. In this thesis, the status and position of factory women act as delicate indicators of the levels of social justice and injustice in Indonesia and the extent to which major groups in Indonesian society are excluded from sharing fully in the benefits of development.