Robert Weber, Heiko Faust:
Cultural Aspects of Rural Poverty -- Empirical Analysis on Access to and Use of Land in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia


Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Institute of Geography, Department of Social and Cultural Geography, Germany

The transformation of rural regions is depending on the modernisation process of a country as a hole. That means rural poverty is to be seen in the national socio-economic context. If we take the Human Development Index of UNDP to measure the development process of a country the situation in Indonesia has become slightly better from 0.677 to 0.684, but relatively worse in the world wide ranking. Indonesia fell from rank 102 (1999) to rank 110 (2000). Despite this generalised numbers we find great disparities in rural Indonesia, especially between high productive islands like Java and more extensively operated regions like Central Sulawesi. Even on local level we find an enormous disparity of welfare.

Income and welfare of the rural community are based on the natural resources, but the decisive factor for the income of the individual households is to share the potentials. Thus the access to land and the abilities of land use determines the household's socio-economic welfare. The access to land and the use of the land on the other hand is depending on a variety of socio-cultural factors. Our study focuses on the cultural factors, which describe particular shared values, beliefs, knowledge, skills and practices that underpin behaviour by members of a social or ethnic group. Thus, ethnic stratification and the distribution of social and cultural power build up diverse schemes of land use patterns by merging cultural impacts of varying strength. Using a quantitative village census, the study reflects the impact of cultural factors on the socio-economic stratification of three villages in Central Sulawesi. The empirical evidence reveals the decisive relevance of cultural aspects in terms of individual poverty. The stratification is derived by applying on the Poverty Assessment Tool (ZELLER et al. 2003).

Keywords: Central Sulawesi, culture, Indonesia, land use, poverty


Contact Address: Heiko Faust, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Institute of Geography, Department of Social and Cultural GeographyGoldschmidtstraße 5, 37077 Göttingen, Germany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2004