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Labor and Politics in Indonesia, Teri L. Caraway and Michele Ford

Reviewed by Eunsook Jung

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Teri L. Caraway and Michele Ford, two outstanding longtime scholars of labor in Indonesia, provide a comprehensive analysis of labor movements in Indonesia since its democratization in 1998. As they show in Labor and Politics in Indonesia, Indonesia's labor movements, which were severely repressed, fractured, and largely apolitical under the Suharto regime (1967–1998), have made an unusual comeback in democratic politics. Caraway and Ford describe Indonesian organized labor as “weak workplace unions but with strong policy outcomes.” They ask why and how labor movements were able to accomplish policy goals without strong unionism. The achievements of labor movements in Indonesia are even more puzzling as they do not have “any institutional links to a labor or social democratic party” (p. 175). Caraway and Ford astutely capture the underlying political dynamics of Indonesian labor movements over the past 20 years. They elucidate what shaped the strategies of labor movements in a changing political context and how they made their voices heard. As such, this book is a welcome contribution to the fields of both Indonesian politics and labor politics.

In explaining labor movements’ uncommon strategies since Indonesia's democratization, combining mass mobilization with autonomous electoral engagement, Caraway and Fo

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