One day, when I was a teenager, my father suggested me to live in Jakarta after graduating from high school. Not without any reasons, my father didn’t want to see me facing difficulties living in a village where “gotong-royong” becoming their main culture in running daily life. This culture is quite troublesome for the low-income population like my family. Why? That’s because the income earns by my father from selling snack is not so big, only enough to pay for our daily meals and pay off family debts. Of course, when one of our neighbors has an event, my dad should off from working that impact to our daily living, “we cannot eat” and my parents could not gather money pay the debt.
For one event like for example at a wedding, my father should giving his 3 days personal-assistance. You can imagine how many days he needs to spend if there are 5 wedding in a month. Almost half a month he can’t use his time for work. Nevertheless, “gotong-royong” has its positive impact. A person who held the event will receive free-personal assistant from neighbors. The neighbors will also bring some staples that will be useful to supply feed for the guests.
According to Indonesian dictionary, “gotong-royong” or mutual cooperation defined as working together to achieve the desired result. “Gotong–royong” itself is usually done on activities such as weddings, circumcision, birth, death, the creation of new homes or home renovation, to social activities in the community such as cleaning the road and others. “Gotong-royong” itself is still very well maintained in some areas in Indonesia, especially in rural areas, but is faded in urban communities. If so, is the culture good to defend? How will it affect the economic movement in the area?
“Gotong-royong” is an ancestral heritage that is also maintained by the Indonesian government and named it as a culture. There are several forms of “gotong-royong”, such as personal-assistance and cooperative. The government believed that gotong royong is one of the best ways to build our economy in the mention of collectivism through cooperative. Cooperative is a form of “gotong-royong” in the economic sector. Unfortunately, the role of cooperatives in our economy is still limited (around 1.6%, resource: www.wartapilihan.com) and rarely found in the village community. In fact, “gotong royong” that develop and maintained in the villages is a personal-assistance form. This culture is felt to be a burden especially for people who do not have a good job.
One study conducted by DeMeulenaere (2001) underscores the lack of a fair share of participation time such as people with fixed salaries and having official ties such as civil servants or workers in the company will have reason to come to work after work. Of course, it will not affect their income. Unlike those who are tied up by working hours, people who have unrestricted jobs such as laborers, traders or farmers will surely give up their full time to help. As a result, those who do not have a fixed salary will lose the opportunity to earn a living on that day. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of research in the impact culture on personal-assistance toward economic growth in rural communities. Hopefully, in the future, the culture that known as the identity of the nation can be maintained with a better-regulated system for improving the welfare of its people.
- DeMeulenaere. (2001). Merancang konsep menguatkan sistem tradisional Indonesia berbagi tugas sosial, gotong royong dengan waktu yang terbatas-berdasarkan sistem laporan. Retrieved from http://www.appropriate-economics.org/asia/indonesia/Konsep_Sistem_Gotong_Royong.pdf