The Urban workforce
The two articles, John Ingleson’s, `The Urban workforce” and Osborne’s “Southeast Asia: An introductory history” specifically mentioned the presence of colonial Dutch in Indonesia. Both Ingelson and Osborne wrote about a transitional aspect in the Indonesian history and what that transition resulted to during the rule of the Dutch. Ingleson’s article, however, focuses on the mobility and condition of the urban workforce in Indonesia from 1880’s up to the 1930’s while the second article covers the period after the Second World War when Indonesian nationalist claimed their independence from the Dutch.
Ingleson started his article by mentioning about the construction of the railways in Java in the late 1800 is which resulted in the transitional massive urban migration of Indonesian natives from the provinces. Ingelson had made clear that such contact was made possible through the natives’ desire to find jobs in the urban center. However, Ingleson had explained that most of them were not able to hold permanent job by reason of their being illiterate. He said that most of these people provided unskilled labor for the many factories owned by the Dutch colonizers.
He supported this claim by providing results of studies conducted concerning the literacy condition in that period. For example, Ingleson reported that in the 1920 Census “only 6. 5 percent of the native male population of Java and Madura could read and write and only 0. 5 percent of the native female population”. Furthermore, he stated that even those classed as skilled workers, only 716 (6. 2 percent) out of 11,540 permanent workers surveyed in the Surabaya metal industries in 1926, had any formal education. This illiteracy had been responsible for the urban mobility of the workforce.
In fact, Ingelson revealed that in 1926, approximately only 7. 0 percent of the Indonesian workforce had been employed in the same company for more than ten years while approximately 61 percent had less than three year’s employment. Such workforce mobility was due to the almost inexhaustible supply of unskilled workers so that companies employed as few as possible on a permanent basis, recruiting what they needed in the cheaper day wage temporary basis. Therefore, Ingleson concluded that the unskilled workers were forced to search for job from company to company and from industry to industry (Ingleson, 1986, 19-24).
This conclusion was arrived at after the presentation of the data. Osborne, on the other hand, discussed another transitional period in the history of Indonesia under the Dutch colonial rule, which is the fight for independence. He explained that such independence was achieved by the Indonesian revolution. Osborne, unlike Ingleson, did not show any results of studies to prove his point but he used facts in history and the opinions of scholars for explanation. He recorded dates and events in history, such as in 1945 and 1946 when the Dutch re-established their control in Indonesia after the Second World War.
He mentioned that at this time, the clamor for independence from Holland had grown so strong and that three groups (the communists Indonesians, the nationalist and Darul Islam) were ready to fight against them. However, such transition also help to divide the people of Indonesia. Unlike in Ingleson’s article where it is evident that the Indonesians were one in their struggle for economic survival, Osborne had revealed that politically they were not united. In fact, the Indonesians had to actually fight against each other (nationalist versus the communist and the Darul Islam).
An important historical event is mentioned about the Madiun Affair wherein the Communists were defeated by the Indonesian nationalist revolutionary army in Madiun. Darul Islam, on the other hand, had tried to seize control of some territories through armed force but suffered the same fate as the communist rebels. Obviously, all three groups had fought for control in the government, although the nationalist eventually prevailed. In 1949, the Dutch relinquished control of Indonesia. Osborne finally concluded his article about Indonesia by discussing debatable views on the significance of the Indonesian revolution.
Unlike Ingelson who ended his article in a conclusive note based on facts and not on his own opinion, Osborne, on the other hand, ended his article with some differing views and opinions regarding the Indonesian revolution so that the reader is left with his analysis on whether or not the Indonesian revolution was able to achieve its ultimate goal aside from achieving independence. Osborne stated that despite the clear indications of the importance of the Indonesian revolution, (it attained independence), scholars continue to debate its character.
They seemed to find nothing revolutionary about the events in 1945-1946 and many were not convinced that the vested interest at the end of the revolutionary period were actually aimed to achieve major social change in Indonesia. However many argued that significant social and political change did took place. Osborne had given his own opinion regarding the matter, and that is, that the judgment concerning the character of Indonesian revolution will likely depend on what an observer thinks ought to have happened rather than an attempt to describe what did happen (Osborne, 2004, 180-188).
As a conclusion, the two articles are the same in the sense that the authors both discussed transitional events and the result of that transition in Indonesian history under the Dutch rule. However both covered different periods and events in history. Ingleson used results of studies to describe and prove his point in what happened in the period he covered while Osborne relied in describing transitional event through historical facts (dates and specific events) and the opinion of scholars.
There was also difference in arriving at a conclusion: Ingleson ended his article in a conclusive note without his opinion while Osborne raised some differing views about the event he described and offered his own opinion on how it should be dealt with.
Ingleson, John. (1986). “The Urban workforce”. In search of Justice: Workers and Unions in Colonial Java. Singapore: OUP. Osborne. (2004). Southeast Asia: An introductory history. Allen & Unwin.
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