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The rise of Polri: democratisation and the political economy of security in Indonesia

Baker, Jacqueline (2012) The rise of Polri: democratisation and the political economy of security in Indonesia. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In Indonesia, successful democratisation from military authoritarian rule has pushed the military ‘back to the barracks’ and restored the rule of law. This process of moving from authoritarian-military to civil-juridical authority has taken place in multiple ways across the political system, however most notably in the rise of the police as an institutional actor, the restoration of their authority over domestic and national security and law enforcement. Scholarship shows how criminality and the criminal contingent have been crucial in every way to state formation in Indonesia. Throughout history, the security institutions have mediated those forms of criminality and the state’s overarching relationship with the illicit. One of the ways the relationship between the state and criminal practices has manifested itself has been in the mechanisms of illicit extraction and accumulation broadly known as “corruption”. Despite the regularizing effects of democratisation, the security sector continues to be resourced primarily by a vast illicit economy, called the off-budget economy. I show how Polri’s new authoritative role in security and law enforcement has opened up the spoils of this economy to the police in two important criminal economies; the gift economy of indigenous Chinese traders and the illegal gambling economy in Jakarta. This thesis demonstrates how the transformation from military-coercive to civil juridical modalities of power has not improved the quality of Indonesia’s democracy or rule of law. Rather, democratisation has caused a restructuring in the political economy of security and facilitated the rise of Polri as a perverse political actor within the Indonesian state and society. The intimacy of the Indonesian state with illicit practices has been reconfigured anew.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Jacqueline Baker
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Sidel, John T.

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