Village Deliberation in Managing Village Natural Resources in Indonesia

Mr Katiman Katiman1

1Crawford School Of Public Policy, ANU, Lyneham, Australia

One strategy to develop rural areas is to reform village governance structures by granting decision making autonomy to villages. The underlying assumption is that when villages have more authority to make decisions over their own affairs, the outcomes will be better suited to their needs. However, in practice giving greater authority only sometimes meets expectation and may alter well-established and suitable practices of development. The government of Indonesia introduced the New Village Law (No 6/2014) granting greater authority and power over budgetary allocations to villages. The new law emphasises village authority with respect to its traditional autonomy (otonomi asli desa) and original rights (hak asal-usul). These village’s original rights include village natural resources, particularly village land. Using deliberative democracy theory, and based on extended fieldwork in Central Java, this study examines village deliberation (musyawarah desa) processes shaping the distribution of village land. It considers how deliberation works and how patterns of deliberation influence outcomes. The paper compares cases where village elites intervene and dominate the deliberation process, with cases where community values and preferences lead to anticipated outcomes, assessing under what condition each of these occur. Finally, the paper considers the role of social relations, leadership and actors’ interests in shaping the village decision-making process and outcomes.


Katiman Kartowinomo is a PhD Student at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU. He earned his master’s degree from the same school focusing on social policy and bachelor’s degree in economics, Gadjah Mada University. His on-going PhD research focusing on governance, social relations and patterns of village decision making in Javanese Villages, Indonesia.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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