The construction of community participation: Village family planning groups and the Indonesian state

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Indonesia's family planning program has been one of the most effective in the developing world in promoting contraceptive use and contributing to fertility transition. In evaluating why the program has worked, analysts have given much credit to a network of village family planning groups that developed from the 1970s to the 1990s and that blanketed the archipelago. These groups, composed primarily of female volunteers, made contraception available to women in even the most remote parts of the country, and acted as agents of family planning motivation. They have been labeled by the Indonesian state family planning agency as an example of effective community participation on a national scale. In this paper, I investigate this claim and find it to be simplistic. I provide extensive evidence that the creation of this network was orchestrated by the Indonesian state. On the other hand, I show that these groups are not fully state entities, as they have several characteristics that mark them as socially embedded institutions. They are best labeled as unusual state-society hybrids. In my investigation I draw on one of the newest paradigms in the discipline of political science - the state-society approach - to uncover the odd nature of this family planning network. More deeply, I argue that the state-society approach ought to be adopted in family planning analysis on a comprehensive basis. The traditional organizational and social-demographic approaches that have dominated the field offer only limited understanding of the nature of family planning programs in developing countries. The state-society approach is ideally suited to identifying how family planning programs are institutions of a political nature, embedded in states and societies, and transformed by and transformative of each.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1199-1214
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume54
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Community participation
  • Family planning
  • Indonesia
  • State-society approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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