Def: Historical Analysis

Historical analysis > historical contexts, description, interpretation and presentation of historical relicts from the past to conceptualization of phenomena and temporal change.

S.V. Sethuraman, The Role of The Informal Sector in Developing Economies. (Chaper 1 & 2)

In his introductory chapter SETHURAMAN lines out that, the development of the informal sector within urban economies of developing countries is rooted in the sharp increase in the population. Under these circumstances coupled with a rather stagnating demand of labor in agriculturally oriented areas results in a migration of rural population towards the urban centers; which loom with better income and educational opportunities. As these streams can only be absorbed by the urban economy to a very limited degree, a number of problems arise. Namely, the massive growth of slums with limited access to basic utilities and respective health hazards, urban-rural disparities in income as well as within the social stratification, unemployment among; especially the young; urban labor force, and finally “diseconomies of scale” in the overall economic setting.

Under these conditions, SETHURAMAN and others observe that [a class of petit-bourgeois engaged in a variety of productive activities (e.g., small-scales manufacturing and repair businesses) has emerged all of which are included in what is now called the “informal sector”] (p.8) and which make up a large share of the urban labor force. As the term already suggests, there is an underlying dualism within the description of urban economies between the “formal sector” business organizations and the petty trade and service businesses as described above. SETHURAMAN resumes that the sectors exist in parallel within the economic system, are concerned with economic activity, and can be distinguished in their degree of formal organization as well as scale and modes of production. More specifically, the “formal sector”, in contrast to the petty service and trade business of the “informal sector”, employs modern means and methods of production, shows a corporate managerial structure which finally results in a larger output than its informal counter-system.

Working towards a definition, there are two levels of observation. On the one hand it can be conducted with a focus on the individuals involved within the sectors, whereas on the other hand the enterprise or organization may be the primary focus. On the individual level of the labor force within the “informal sector”, there appears to be a low barrier of entry to the market, a low bonding towards the work, and no protecting regulations that apply to the individual as compared to institutional practices of the formal sector. With a focus on the institutional aspects of work such as enterprises and economic activities, however, the primary interest lies on the conditions that generate income which in turn may offer insights about policies of improving urban economic settings.

Looking at the “informal sector” in particular, it becomes clear that enterprises are not aiming primarily at investments, but rather sufficient and individual self-employment and that they do not emerge as highly specialized firms that aim at occupying a niche market. Hence, in terms of an organizational analysis, they tend to have little control about the resources and little technical specialization. However, while interpreting the entrepreneurial sphere as a continuum, it becomes clear that it has to be taken into account that the thresholds are fluid. Hence, a rather informal enterprise may migrate towards the formal sector as soon as it acquires the necessary skill and capital and increasingly resembles formal structures. To this end, it becomes necessary to introduce an “intermediary sector” to the taxonomy.

Based on the considerations as outlined above, SETHURAMAN defines the “informal sector” as consisting [of small-scale units engaged in the production and distribution of goods and services with the primary objective of generating employment and income to their participants notwithstanding the constraints on capital, both physical and human, and knowhow.] (p. 17)

However, SETHURAMAN notes that this working definition needs to take into account the limitations of a strictly “dualistic” view. First, it has to be considered that urban economies do not consist of two mutually exclusive sub-systems and that there are potential interrelatedness beyond the strictly theoretical framework. Second, as the example of the “intermediary sector” shows, the working definition does not take into account business life cycles and therefore a limitation on two phenotypes within the taxonomy is not applicable as a precise framework. Third, is the question whether or not the observed state represents a fully developed structure for Third World economies or if it represents a transitional structure.


Evers’s Strategic Group as Catalyst in Southeast Asian Class Formation

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead


Class structure and Class formation is inherent in every modern society. The break of traditional society’s relations developed new form of social configuration based on class (formation). This new forms of societal formation is also inevitable in the Eastern societies and to the same degree Southeast Asia. Modernization process that hass been imposed in almost Southeast Asian societies by colonialism influenced significant change to the pattern of social relations, institutions and formations. The transformation of the societal order catalyzed by the development of groups that Hans-Dieter Evers identified as Strategic group.


Drawning from the works of Ralf Dahendrof, Evers developed the concept of Quasi Group and eloborated further to his own seminal concept; Strategic Group. Tied by identity marker shaped by common background, environment, kinsip and ethnicity, this Quasi Group developed into Strategic Group. Strategic Group filled important roles in social configuration and increase their political capacities by influence the former society structure. At the individual stage, the Strategic Group develop from individuals who gaining certain important roles in societies, share resources whether economic means of production or political capacities. These individuals inturn embrace the same values and ideals of society.


One of the central aspect influences the class formation is mobility; the capacity of individuals to develop vertical and horizontal social mobilties. Strategic Group is one of the fluid groups that can move vertically to the upper class because of the indvidual achievement and networks among the member of the group. While at the same time moves horizontally to their fellow from the same class and also move vertically downward to gain union with their former lower class comrade. In Durkhemian sense, new social ocupations and the division of labour that create new solidarity from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity create the opportunity for individuals to transform their former class position to a new class position. Profesionals like teachers, businessman, docters, military officer, beraucrate and other emergence modern social occupations is one of necesity to create pre structured conditions to class formation. Evers explanations of social mobilities break the general Orthodox Marxism notion that societies only consist of two classes, the borgeouis Vis a Vis the proletar.


The emergence of the new influental Strategic Group generate potential conflict between dominant-status quo allience group in society and other potential Strategic Group who had similar development. In this inter-group relations there are tendency toward escalations of conflicts between the rival Strategic Group and also Vis a Vis the rulling class – allience group. Each contested groups is struggling to become the most influentals group in society. The conflictual groups intensified the clash and leads to a new social configurations. In this phase, the old class formation decline and form a new class formation. The group who first established well grounded capacities and resources of this new class formation will lead. To secure the establishement of a new class formation, coalition or allience to other potential Strategic Group is a necessity. In Southeast Asian case like Indonesia and Thailand, the new rulling class form Oligarchy government. This coalation based on the allience between political group, business group, middle man minorities, scientist as technocrate and the military. The allience also can develop between intelectuall – peasant, or groups of religious movement. Thus, the new rulling class automatically changes the social structure and therefore in the sametimes redefines the class to be ruled.


H.D. Evers, Group Conflict and Class Formation in Southeast Asia.

EVERS notes at the outset of his article, that understanding, keeping track of, and predicting socio-political developments in Southeast Asia might be more appropriate by using theoretical frameworks that have already been applied successfully to other societies, which had been in a similar situation in an earlier historical context. Acknowledging the criticism, that modern social theory might introduce a certain European-bias to the observation, thus, EVERS takes into account that Southeast Asian societies undergo specific, yet similar, class-formation processes that influence societal development. In particular, there is common agreement that Southeast Asian societies are primarily organized by integrating socio-economic groups within a vertical structure prone to forming patronage systems, which may indicate fast societal change and emerging classes.

To bridge Western class theory and their application to Southeast Asian societies EVERS continues to outline the basic dynamics of class formation. By using the example of transformation from feudal respectively absolutistic to industrial society in Europe, EVERS shows that [any firmly established social order contains already the seeds of a new social structure in the form of individuals or groups who might under certain conditions at certain times grow and develop into larger units, groups or classes.] (p. 249) Moreover, times of change within social orders provide an incentive for appropriation of societal roles by social groupings that, at the outset, represent a cluster of similar political and economical demands and value systems, yet, with a primary allegiance to their societal origin.

Within these socio-economic brackets, these groups become “strategic” in the sense that they one the hand aim at distributing political and economic resources with established or emerging “strategic rivals” which intensifies mobility into those groups as well as their cohesion. Referring to DAHRENDORF, EVERS suggests that, on the societal level, those inter-group tensions may be eased by providing egalitarian mechanisms within society based on individualistic motivations. As these means may not apply to the collective cultural setting of Southeast Asian societies, [an Asian solution is, however, provided in the form of clique and patronage systems.] (p. 251)

With the establishment of modern institutions in Southeast Asia, opportunities for the emergence of “strategic groups” particular to the region arose that took the lead or rivaled for the reconfiguration of their respective societies. Within these developments, EVERS observes three distinct trends in Southeast Asia. Firstly, a trend of migration of labor away from the primary sector that creates new socio-economic and professional groupings. Secondly, a dichotomy between modern or secular and traditional roles in society, and thus, a confrontation between modernizing and reactionary forces. Third, a confrontation between top-down institutions such as the military and civil service, and buttom-up political movements based on the newly emerging independent professionals.

EVERS provides a number of examples of how these groups reconfigured society by filling of the gaps in post-colonial Southeast Asia by forming inter-group alliances, and, with the support of foreign economic and military aid carburized political facts that have to be challenged by their strategic rivals. Given the numerous examples for Southeast Asian societies, he concludes that, ironically, modernization created a class structure which channels economic resources to the upper class elites and that the differentiation of the newly emerged “strategic groups” carry the potential for considerable inter-group conflicts.

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John S. Furnivall: Plural Societies.

As defined by FURNIVAL, a plural society is comprised of two or more distinct social orders, living in parallel within one political entity, without much intermingling, and reminds the reader of the image of the “salad bowl” as it is often used to oppose the idealized notion of the American “melting pot”. He continues to observe, that those social orders across different continents vary over the full range and intensity of ‘ethnic markers’, and he chooses Netherlands India as the subject of his considerations for the reason that, the racial make-up of this society provides a striking example for illustrating plurality. This Southeast Asian example equips him with a number of arguments to substantiate the debates about political economy among colonial theorists of the first half of the 20th century who analyzed respective economic system through a limited classical economic framework.

Looking at Netherlands India, the coexistence of indigenous, European, and Chinese social orders appear to lack a common will that serves as a bracket for all segments of society. Specifically, each member of society is molded by the cultural institutions of the original social order that she originates from, and which primarily attune the individual to her original cultural particularities. In societal terms, the only remaining cross-section of all segments in a plural society is the economy, as it represents the least common cultural denominator within this particualar setting. In contrast to homogenous economies, the production system in a plural setting is not structured as a social institution that serves a common social welfare but rather as a factory, in which each of the societal segment adapts to the niches that it is capable to occupy. As the assignment to economic roles; in FURNIVAL’s example based on race; further hinders an unbiased perception and identification of benefits for the society as a whole, this adds a further level of conflict to those which are already faced by homogenous societies. Of particular difficulty appear phenomena such as divergent social demand, distinctive economic and social casts, particularistic visions of social life, and ‘cast struggles’ between the societal segments in their economic functions.

As much as the American “melting pot” may differ from the reality of the “salad bowl”, FURNIVAL points at earlier Dutch writers who assumed that a “dual economy” in which European capitalism and pre-capitalist economy were believed to coexist. Within this notion, indigenous society is characterized to be inferior as its economic motives were not as prominent as compared to the Western capitalist principles. FURNIVALL then raises the question, in how far those deficiencies are owed to the historical circumstances as well as sociological setting, and not to innate characteristics of the indigenous culture and population. In doing so, he points out a number of examples that show how the indigenous population learned to appropriate Western capitalist principles and methods to increase their competitiveness against the Chinese and Europeans segments in Netherlands India. Both not only had a competitive edge due to their experience with the workings of the capitalist system but also the ability to price out native products from the market. Given this situation, FURNIVAL notes an impressing commercial catch up by the indigenous population; despite the compulsion towards the economic system of the oppressor and the barriers of entry provided by Europeans and Chinese; and points out evidences for an emerging capitalist ‘caste leaders’ among the native population. Never the less, approximations on the surface of plural society resulted in a decay and disorganization of the particular social demand and a further narrowing sectionalism within Netherlands India.

Having set this stage, FURNIVAL then confronts the thesis that the economy in Netherlands India is bound to be insufficient based on the low priority of economic motives within the indigenous set of values. Applying classical liberal theory to plural societies can not hold true, as the axioms are already inherently flawed. Whereas classic economic theory is based on the idea that society, once unleashed under a minimal state, exploits economic freedom to generate human welfare, non-pluralist theorists defraud that Netherlands Indian society can not provide a vehicle necessary to unleash this general will. In fact, the forces pull into opposite directions. For a homogeneous society politics aims at organizing the will of society and the economy exists to integrate individual and social demand. In plural societies however, politics aims at integrating society and economy is challenged to organize social demand. And this problem is not soon to be solved easily as serious reconfigurations may risk a collapse of the already fragile make up of plural societies.

Even though there have been attempts to align a common demand by introducing economic freedom in the legal domain, FURNIVAL points out that, the emphasis of individual rights over social duty further deepened the sociological cleavages within Netherlands Indian society. In the same way, nationalism didn’t lead to the desired common will as it originated from a reaction upon European protectionism and was driven by an economic necessity rather than a common social entity. Given the “dual character” of society, FURNIVAL assumes that, a federal framework might integrate society on a political level, and therefore reliefs the economic domain from its social burdon.


4433 Between Formality and Informality: Institutions in Southeast Asia | Furnivall, J.S. – Plural Societies. IN: Evers, H.D. Sociology of Southeast Asia. KL: Oxford Uni. Press, 1980: 86-96

Colloquium 3/11/2010

Reaffirmation motivations – Organizational socialization in the non-profit sector

  • Goal framing (a) gain (b) normative (c) hedonic
  • Goal frame: dominant goal
  • weakened / strengthened by background goals
  • goal frame + background goals influence the perception

Non-profit setting

  • staff > mainly normative + hedonic motivated

Eisenstadt’s Multiple Modernitities; Another revisionist or Alternative Discourse?

The notion of “modern”, “modernism” and “modernitity” is facing a challenging dispute. The claim of single and linear process of modernization that constitutes every society to transform into what scientist and its scientific discourse regard as modernitiy has fall into question. The challenge came from globalization phenomenon and the failure of modernization project in developing (some) eastern societies as counterpart to the western (post) enlightment project. S.N.Eisenstadt proposes some different postulate to understand how the term modernity developed differly in context of different societies.

Systematically, Eisenstadt developed his Multiple Modernities by first examine the historical trajectory of modernity project. Within Eisendstadt’s reading, he discovered contrary to general scientific assumption, that modernity(es) progress not in the homogenous sense, but develop in heterogenous way. In the first period of modernity, western perspectives and nation states as dominant instrument transformed many societies and its agents and institutions in cultural and political sphere. The post World War II, we can observed that many nation in the east including Southeast Asia, transformed their political sistem into nation – state based. The most significant contribution from Eisenstadt Multiple Modernities is that he identified the globalization impact open the new posibilities to develop different process of modernities acroos the globe. He also identified the role of new agencies, institutions and social movement responding to the impact as a part of dynamics modernities project. Multiple Modernities denotes that eventhough different societies develop their own distinct and unique ways of modernity; its movements will converge and connected to the whole project of modernities.

However, there are several critics to Einstadt ideas. Einstadt himself is a modernist in the sense of what Nilufer Gole Said one of the element of moderniy is self corection and Einstadt is one of the example in the field of scientifict institutions and discourse. Eisenstadt first fallacy is that he assumed that every agencies from individual to collective group, from institutions to social movement in different societies (west – east) imagining their “own version” (liberalism, comunism, fundamentalism) of modernity. Thus, every society is transforming its self toward what he claims to be a Multiple Modernities. Second, his basic premises are still employed form of linear process; from one point of departure of “Pre Modernity” to (Multiple) “Modernity”. The notion Multiple operates to explain how different societies whether indivdual to collective idenitity, social movement to institutions responding to what most of scientist claim as universal movement; under the banner of modernity project. Eisenstadt’s underline the variations of how each different society with its different context and configuration responds to the world’s transformation and the modernity project that initiated by the west. These variations on how every society developed its distinct modernity project considered to be affirmative respond of locality to a wider universal project of (multiple) modernity (es).

These fallacies fail to recognize the backlash of modernity project in two senses. First, Eisenstadt fail to see that even in the most modern state like the British, produce some sense of tradition which Hobswam identified as “invention of tradition” in this modern era.‘Invented Tradition’ is taken to mean a set of practices normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual or symbolic nature which seek to inculcate certain values and norms of behavior by repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past[1]. What Hobsbawm explain is more suitable to the phenomenon on why many agencies in Southeast Asia societies developed informal institutions, or extend certain understanding related to the past such “Javanese Power” or “Charisma” in its political and cultural field. Second, is the new social movement like fundamentalist etc thinking about modernity or they just develop their own conception of Dar al Islam? In other words, Eisenstadt forget the basic question to be asked which probbably many non western people questioned; why we have to be modern anyway?



[1] Eric Hobsbawm; “Introduction; Inventing Tradions” in “The Invention of Traditions” edited by Eric Hobsbawn and Terence Ranger (Cambridge University Press;2000)

Shmuel Eisenstadt: Multiple Modernities

Eisenstadt argues that the classical view on modernity, as derived from the Western experience, is not applicable to all modernizing societies, and that it needs to be substantiated by a notion of multiplicity. This is for the reason that modernizing societies bring in their own socio-cultural influences that drive modernization, and that the Western experience may merely serve as a reference point in the respective developments. The modernization process, as he continues, needs to be understood as the negotiation of multiple societal stakeholders about what makes society modern rather than as a historical consequence.

As the notion of multiplicity raises the question about what in essence constitutes modernity, Eisenstadt refers to Weber for the precondition, that modernity is initiated by the emancipation from traditional concepts of authority which empowers members of society to an ongoing contestation of the status quo. On the individual level, modernity goes along with the awareness of being part of a wider societal scheme than the immediate community, and a feeling of autonomy as well as entitlement in shaping society.

For the political realm Eisenstadt derives that the notion of autonomy opens the stage for opposition as a legitimate driver of the political process. As a consequence of the broad acceptance of participation, the adoption of fringe positions leads to a strengthening of the political center, and the mutual influence between center and periphery perpetuates the overall weight of active participation and autonomy. Thus, the appropriation of fringe positions by the center fuels the necessity for the opposition to shape out more distinctly for the reason of differentiation and as a justification for its existence when the center-periphery boundaries are increasingly blurring. Derived from this notion, modernity develops an inherent potential for continual self-correction.

With an opportunity for potential gains from negotiation within this process, multiple societal segments have an incentive to claim their stakes in an overall politicization of society. These conditions allow for two major collective ontologies, the notion that human agency should be directed to fulfill an exclusive societal vision with totalistic claims and the complementary notion of inclusive and relativistic pluralism rooted in the ideas of Enlightenment. While both of these strands are directed to create overarching meaning and autonomy for the individual in its relation to society, the first can further be differentiated by its means of justification, that is, in terms of the primacy of the collectivity with respective attributes and a civil component directed towards societal progress. On this bases, a variety of “archetypical” modern ideologies competed within the entity of the nation-state for predominance of the political system, though beginning to be part of an international scheme.

With respect to multiplicity, as Eisenstadt continues, the extent of antagonism between modern ontologies and the homogeneity of their movements already differed significantly among the first modernizing societies. Building on the earlier experience of modernization, with its inherent problems and deficiencies, there developed the first alternative interpretations that aimed at the reconfiguration of the very core of society by appropriating the idea of modernization. As these movements, namely Soviet communism and national-socialism, exploited the idea of modernization to their own ends, it has to be noted that the idea of self-correction developed a radical dimensions as it included means such as the ideological justification for atrocities. While socio-economic patterns became increasingly global also the concept of modernity began to defuse. Whereas modern institutions and themes were accepted to serve their purpose in a non-Western context, the traditional modern concept with its weaknesses and threats for the identity of society served as an important factor to distinguish reinterpretations of modernity from the West and was employed for the development of new collective identities. Thus, with individual cultural preconditions, to different extends, and with different timings.

At the same time, the intensification of globalization began to increasingly detach the concept of modernity from the entity of the nation-state that increasingly forfeit control over hitherto internal affairs which allows for transnational visions of collective identities that contested modernity on the ground of the nation-state. Rooted in social transformations of the global context, these new modern movements are, as Eisenstadt notes, based on socio-philosophical, religious, or ethnic identities and are negotiating their particular stakes within the modern institutional arenas. While competing with the existing interpretations of modernity and amongst each other, they also show, though to different extents, many of the aforementioned patterns of modernization within themselves. Without aiming at the core of society, new social movements are continually dissociating the concept of modernity from the West.

In sum, Eisenstadt argues that modernity in its multiple dimensions is a continual mechanism of reappropriations and reinterpretations of the idea of modernity. Driven by individual socio-cultural influences brought about by globalization, emerging versions of modernity negotiate and create their spaces within a modern institutional framework. Given the dynamics of a continual diversification of multiple modernities, Eisenstadt concludes that neither of the Western-centric assumption of the ‘end of history’ or the ‘clash of civilizations’ hold true by the change of the century.

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Summary of: Eisenstadt, Shmuel. Multiple Modernities. IN: Eisenstadt. Multiple Modernities. London: Transaction Pub., 2000: 1-29 | Assignment as part of “4433 Between Formality and Informality: Institutions in Southeast Asia”; Instructors: Sascha Helbardt, Dagmar Hellmann-Rajayanagam