Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Success as social: Exploring young people's understandings of success in rural Java

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posted on 2023-09-22, 01:20 authored by Larasati, Rara Sekar

Using the case of desa wisata adat (official tourism and traditional cultural village) Ngadas, East Java, Indonesia, this thesis explores the meanings of success from the perspectives of rural young people and how the particular local context of Ngadas shaped their understandings of success. Unlike many rural young people in Indonesia, young people from Ngadas are known for their land ownership, successful farming, low rate of urbanisation and low participation in formal education. With its particular social, economic and cultural background, young people from Ngadas serves as a valuable case study to understand Indonesian rural youth success as it is situated within the village.  In this research, I utilise Bourdieu’s theory of practice to focus on the practices of young people for success and explore the capitals and habitus within Ngadas (the field). In doing so, I explore how the adat (customs, rituals, values) is significantly embedded within young people’s practices for success in three key aspects of their lives: work practices, familial/relational practices and religious practices. Drawing on six weeks of ethnographic fieldwork with six youth participants and four village leaders, data were collected through focus group discussion or klumpukan, auto-driven photo-elicitation, individual interviews, and participant observation.  My study shows that for young people in Ngadas, their success practices were underpinned by a form of social capital that is founded on reciprocity or a gift exchange which is embedded within and shaped by adat, and in turn also serves to maintain adat. The significance of social capital for young people’s success explains how success in Ngadas is founded on strong relationships, reciprocity, a sense of belonging, and a sense of community to maintain harmony or guyub rukun. Thus, social capital for young people’s success holds a symbolic value not only for the individual, but also for the field of Ngadas. The case study of young people in Ngadas also presents an understanding of success as illusio, a sense of purpose that is gained from investing in social relationships. It is an understanding of success as a sense of being and belonging with and for others that ties young people’s individual success to the collective success of Ngadas as an economic, social and cultural community.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-NC 4.0

Degree Discipline

Cultural Anthropology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Gibson, Lorena; Wood, Bronwyn