International Development Planning Review

Between the village and the city: the in-betweenness of rural young people in East Indonesia

International Development Planning Review Ahead of print, 1–22.


From the perspective of a remote village in eastern Indonesia, this article examines the consequences of rural young people’s changing aspirations. Markedly different from their parents’ generation is how many rural youth pursue university degrees in larger cities and aspire for ‘modern’ work. Drawing on household survey and ethnographic interview data, I show how shared ideas about ‘success’ for the future push many young people from poor and middle-income households into similar pathways for university education and work. Then, I use the lenses of doxa, habitus and emergent aspirations to study how these aspirations are made, shared and altered. These concepts and data illustrate why rural young people’s capacity to aspire remains heavily informed by place, and help explain why many young people pursue the same, but limited, educational pathways. The greater significance is how many rural youth do become educated but also seem underprepared for their potential rural futures.

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Author details

Clendenning, Jessica