I-1. “Expansion of Psuedo Middle Class Consumption Patterns in Indonesia” (H28 FY2016)

  • Project Leader:Kurasawa Aiko (Keio University, Emeritus Professor)
  • Collaborators:Mizuno Kosuke (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)
  •                              Naito Tagayasu (Tokai University, School of Letters)
  •                              Arai Kazuhiro (Keio University, Faculty of Business and Commerce)
  •                              Arai Kenichiro (Asia University, Faculty of International Social Studies)
  •                              Nonaka Yo (Keio University, Faculty of Policy Management)
  •                              Ooi Jiro (Tohoku University, Graduate School of Arts and Letters)
  •                              Matsumura Toshio (Waseda University, Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies)
  •                              Yamaguchi Motoki(Rikkyo University, Faculty of Literature)
  •                              Nanke Mitsuko (Okayama University, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences)

Outline of Research

Applying the concept of “pseudo middle class,” we will study recent changes in consumption patterns in Indonesia, where consumption consistent with a middle class lifestyle is rapidly expanding. We will also examine trends in the supply and demand of Islam-related merchandise, which is becoming increasingly prominent in contemporary consumption. During the course of this year, all research group members will conduct field research in Indonesia, focusing on consumption at shopping malls and its impact on lifestyles.


The middle class in Indonesia has not yet been fully formed as a driver of consumption. In this research project, we hypothesize that consumption is actually driven by a social stratum whose members, though not having enough purchasing power to be considered middle class, tend to follow the same consumption patterns and behavior as the middle class. This social stratum can be called the “pseudo middle class,” and in this research it is utilized as a basic concept for analysis. We will observe actual consumption behavior at the micro level in order to determine ideas and values of the middle class and pseudo middle class Indonesian subjects. We also examine supply and demand mechanisms, focusing on several commodities and services. Because Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, we find it important to pay special attention to the possibility of specifically Muslim ways of thinking. Inspired by “glocal” approaches, we will investigate the influences brought to the community level through changes in consumption styles, including Muslim ones. This year we will focus on shopping malls, which are now branded into categories such as “super deluxe,” “deluxe,” and “standard” in accordance with varying demands of Indonesian consumers.


This is a tiled house with ornamental eaves, built with the owner’s remittances from international migratory work (left). Building a brick “permanent house” is the primary motive for most labor migrants from rural East Java. People compete with their neighbors in
beautifying both the interior and exterior of the houses.
Their own interpretation of a middle-class living overseas is strongly reflected upon the interior designs (right). The most characteristic feature is the use of bathroom and floor tiles to decorate both the interior and exterior while also protecting the walls.

Housewives are listening to the sales pitch of a salesperson for drum-type washing machines at an electtric applicances store in a Sub-District center of rural East Java. People have long had the habit of hand-washing clothes in rural areas. However, households with washing machines are on the rise in recent years. Supposedly, more than 60% of households are equipped with washing machines.

High school students are heading home on motorbikes in rural East Java. The police are turning a blind eye to underage driving by junior high as well as high school students, for the sake of promoting popular education. The high school yards are filled with students’ motorbikes.

New high school graduates are enjoying soda drinks at a popular Western-style cafe in a Sub-District center of rural East Java. Although emply liquor bottles are part of the “cool” interior decorations, it is strictly a non-alcohol serving cafe, in observance of the dominant Islamic faith. Different from local traditional cafes which are exclusively visited by male customers, even female junior high school students are free to come by and enjoy noodle soup and drinks after school.