Pergaulan bebas and gendered youth culture in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis



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[Truncated abstract] In contemporary Indonesia there is a moral panic about the behaviour of young people. This moral panic identifies the issue as one of pergaulan bebas (literally, free socialising). Pergaulan bebas is also the issue of greatest concern to Indonesian youth. It can be defined as social interactions and behaviours deemed ‘outside of the norms of society’ or ‘free of rules’. Pergaulan bebas is a negative, condemnatory discourse, used to express disapproval of a range of behaviours carried out by young people. Behaviours considered pergaulan bebas include premarital sex, alcohol and drug consumption, clubbing, consumption of pornography and cybersex, smoking, going out at night and gang fighting. Since many of these behaviours, in particular premarital sex, alcohol use, smoking and going out at night, are condoned for male youth, the discourse of pergaulan bebas settles most heavily on young women. This discourse reinforces existing socio-sexual and spatial taboos for female bodies in new and arguably sinister ways. This is particularly so in the context of dramatic global technological and market changes. As a social discourse played out on ever-younger gendered, sexed bodies, the discourse of pergaulan bebas requires negotiation by youth, whether or not they practise the behaviours implied in pergaulan bebas, for all youth are constructed as ‘at risk’. Since the demise of the New Order in 1998, the Indonesian nation-state has been experiencing an existential crisis.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - 2010

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