Postgraduate students research a broad range of topics across the School disciplines.
Internet, Social Media, and the Underdog Politicians in Post-Soeharto Indonesia: a Case Study of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama
Historically Indonesian politics have been mainly controlled by political elites, drawn from principally Javanese and Islamic backgrounds. The fall of the Soeharto regime in 1998 brought significant changes as the incoming president, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, made a number of noteworthy reforms that included decentralisation of power to the regional government, permission for the establishment of new political parties, and media deregulation.
Along with these changes, the Indonesian political sphere has become more dynamic. In recent years, Indonesia has seen a new breed of ‘non-elite’ politicians occupying important positions in the country.
My research will examine the changes in the spheres of politics and media in Post-Soeharto Indonesia and consider the impacts of these changes on the process of democratisation in the country. Looking specifically at the rise of the Chinese Indonesian Governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (better known by his Hakka nickname, Ahok), this thesis will investigate how social media in Indonesia are contributing to the increased in acceptance and popularity of a new breed of non-indigenous, non-Muslim, and arguably ‘non-elite’ politicians who are challenging the established political processes.
By using the Ahok phenomenon as a case study, this research will explore the extent to which the underdog politician can rise on the basis of this new mode of communication. In a larger scale, this study hopes to contribute new insights on the role of new media in contemporary Indonesia’s democratisation process.