Speaking About Indonesian Economic Development: An Analysis of Current President Joko Widodo's Discursive Construction of the Role of the Government in Economic Development

Aafke Dientje Diepeveen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis sets out to analyze Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s discursive construction of the role of the government in economic development, from the assumption that through such an exercise, it is possible to uncover how particular representations of reality make certain types of actions relevant and others unthinkable. Understanding the content and context of the Indonesian debate on economic development is both interesting, relevant and necessary in times of a changing international power balance and the continued relevance of questions about the state and its relation to and role in the economy. In addition, in line with the normative aims of critical social science research, investigating how discourses come about, function, and are reproduced and challenged, is a relevant task in itself. And while critical approaches are gaining important ground across the social sciences, the number of contributions applying them to non-typical, non-Western cases, including for example a new democracy like Indonesia, is still limited. This thesis contributes to existing research in multiple ways, both theoretically and empirically, and specifically aims to (1) develop a model for mapping discursive logics of economic development; (2) examine the international debate on the developmental state and the Indonesian political economic debate in order to identify the respective discursive logics present in them; and (3) analyze current president Jokowi’s talks and identify whether, when and how components of existing logics occur in the material; as well as how, through the combination of these, a new discursive logic is constructed. Throughout this thesis, I thus seek to develop more insight into the historical and cultural context for the current development debate in Indonesia, as well as into how the current president works within this context to both maintain and change particular representations of reality. I argue that studying elements of the domestic debate on development can be an important tool for analyzing, understanding and evaluating Indonesian political economic past, present and future. The research undertaken in this thesis seeks to contribute to these goals, and to uncover how particular representations of political economic reality make certain types of government forms and functions relevant, and others unthinkable.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages152
SupervisorsLars Bo Kaspersen