Contents>> Vol. 12, No. 1
Geography of Insecurity in Contemporary Jakarta: Cross-Class Spread of Residential Street Barriers
*久納源太, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, 46 Shimoadachi-cho, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8304, Japan; Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
The practice of installing residential street barriers (RSBs) has become widespread in Jakarta. Although RSBs are a most common and familiar manifestation of a collective sense of insecurity in the city, the phenomenon has received scant scholarly attention. This paper presents the first comprehensive study of RSBs in Jakarta. It examines the diversity of the socioeconomic background of communities with the desire to create RSBs. The study finds that the cross-class spread of RSBs is characterized by: (1) a general pattern of inner-city-concentric distribution; (2) sparsely located local contagion spots; and (3) the coexistence of crime-related and trafficrelated concerns. Finally, such spatial patterns are discussed in light of the recent socio-spatial changes in the city.
Keywords: urban gating, Jakarta, residential street barriers, portal
The practice of erecting residential street barriers (RSBs) has become widespread in Jakarta. RSBs exist in various places throughout the city, from small alleys in informal settlements to the entrances of high-class housing areas. During the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, RSBs were an important means of infection prevention in various cities, including Jakarta, where they were used by neighborhood authorities to implement their own lockdown-like measures (Kuno 2020; Lazuardi 2020). With such a ubiquitous presence, RSBs are deeply embedded in the everyday life of people in the city (Fig. 1).
RSBs recall the spread of urban residential spaces with exclusionary designs, namely, gated communities (GCs). GC studies in Indonesia have focused on the residential segregation caused by the emergence of conventional GCs—medium- to large-scale housing clusters developed by commercial bodies (Hogan and Houston 2002; Leisch 2002; Firman 2004; Van Leeuwen 2011; Arai 2015; Hew 2018; Roitman and Recio 2020). On the other hand, RSBs can also be viewed as one of many forms of local security practice in Indonesia. From the guardhouse to the night watch, studies of local security have recorded the evolution of the role of neighborhood-based security measures in public order (Barker 1999; Bertrand 2004; Kobayashi 2006; Kusno 2006).
The prevalence of RSBs in the city is closely related to the segregation and securitization of residential areas. However, RSBs in Jakarta have received little attention from scholars, and a comprehensive examination of their spread has not been reported elsewhere. This paper attempts to present the first empirical description of the citywide proliferation of RSBs.
I-1 Contextualizing RSBs in Jakarta: Local Security and GCs
An RSB refers to any object that is (semi-) permanently installed on a residential street for the purpose of access restriction. This is a global phenomenon that includes urban features such as boom barriers, bollards, height restriction gates, and other types of barriers installed on residential streets. For example, E. J. Blakely and M. G. Snyder (1997) have mentioned the spread of the “city perch,” i.e., neighborhoods enclosed by gates and barricades in some US cities. In some places in urban Ireland, municipal-level councils have installed alley gates, often on paths between houses (Kenna et al. 2015). In New Delhi there are many neighborhoods enclosed within gates. While the street blocking caused by such gates is illegal, resident groups have the power to overcome protests (Malhorta 2019). In urban Malaysia, governmental programs for community-based policing, such as neighborhood watches and patrol groups, were implemented in the 1980s. By the 2000s, communities were building street barricades and hiring guards from security companies (Tedong et al. 2015, 123). As in New Delhi, the legality of RSBs represented a gray area in Malaysia, but in 2019 a federal court in Selangor ruled that RSBs were not illegal objects (Chan 2019). In Indonesia, especially Jakarta, the arbitrary installation of RSBs is illegal, but many communities have erected them without permission.1) In addition, whenever the local authority in Jakarta removes illegitimate RSBs, there tends to be a protest from residents.2)
In the literature, RSBs in Jakarta are related to two study fields: local security and GCs. The connecting line between the two perspectives is that both are fields of study for scholars concerned with the manifestation of a collective sense of insecurity or fear of crime in urban spaces. In order to acquire a point of analysis for a comprehensive picture of RSBs’ proliferation, it is necessary to consider the RSBs’ position in the discussions of both fields.
Starting with local security, it is noteworthy that in Jakarta RSBs are known as “portals” among the locals. The word “portal” is the most familiar term to denote an RSB-type urban feature in Indonesia. There is no historical documentation of when the word was first used in this context. From an etymological standpoint, some argue that “portal” is a loanword from the Dutch word portaal, which means “gate” or “main entrance” (Tri and Grangé 2016). On the other hand, if one asks community organizers in present-day Jakarta about their recollections of the existence of portals, many recall that they began to be installed in neighborhood spaces from the 1980s (Fig. 2a).3) Correspondingly, some scholarly records indicate that portals have existed as neighborhood security tools since the New Order era (Suharto’s authoritarian regime, 1967–98) (Barker 1999, 98; Goebel 2010, 131).
Newspaper articles show that the term “portal” has been used since the 1970s to describe RSB-type urban features. At that time, with the benefit of policies such as the Kampung Improvement Program (KIP), roads in informal settlement areas were asphalted. However, they began to get damaged with the subsequent influx of large vehicles such as heavily loaded trucks. To prevent further damage, the Jakarta government installed height restriction gates, which were called portals (Kompas 1976; Sinar Harapan 1979).4) Later, local communities began installing gates at the entrances to residential areas, and “portal” became a term for various forms of gates used mainly as community-based security measures.5) Hence, portals emerged in Jakarta’s residential areas by the 1970s, which was the early period of the authoritarian regime and before the popularization of conventional GCs in the city.
Following Abidin Kusno’s (2006) documentation of the evolution of guardhouses (gardu), it is safe to say that local security measures in neighborhoods have historically engendered an ambivalence between public and local order. The current persistence of local security mechanisms is due primarily to the New Order’s intervention in neighborhood associations. During the time of the New Order, neighborhood spaces were securitized in advancing the state’s project of kamtib (security and order) and tibum (public order), which was rooted in the Dutch colonial notion of rust en orde (tranquility and order) (Bubandt 2005). During this process, military-sponsored and civilian-run security units became ubiquitous in neighborhoods (Bertrand 2004; Kusno 2006), where they cultivated traditional values (Kobayashi 2006) and instrumentalized communal territoriality (Barker 1999). As the emergence of RSBs in urban Indonesia occurred in parallel with this neighborhood securitization process, it became a manifestation of the metamorphosis of local security measures.6)
On the other hand, several years after the KIP road controversy (1980s–90s), enclave housing spaces began to be constructed by developers in Jakarta (Arai 2001; 2015). As portals are usually one of the default design elements in conventional GCs in Jakarta, they also proliferated in the city along with the expansion of conventional GCs from 1990 (Kompas 1992; 1996). However, even though portals had been used in places other than conventional GCs, the perception of them as a local security tool in conventional GCs emerged after democratization in 1998. The following passage by Firman Lubis (in his memoir Jakarta 1950–1970) depicts how portals proliferated in the city:7)
This widening gap between rich and poor leads to social jealousy . . . and social problems such as increased crime and vandalism. . . . Thus, many houses in the elite’s areas began to build sturdy and high fences [in the 1970s]. In fact, in the 1950s and in the Old Order era, houses were generally not fenced like this. But in the 1970s, as far as I knew, there were no housing estates with strict guarding at the entrance as many of such had appeared after the 1980s . . . though it is still not as strict as it was after the May 1998 riots when many elite housing complexes became very closed by making high fences around them and portals on roads that connect the area to the public space and are heavily guarded by dozens of security guards. (Lubis 2018, 341)
In Lubis’s view, the gated dwelling style of the elites existed in the pre-1998 era. It became more exclusive after 1998, with the presence of portals that acted as obstacles to public space. This is a typical case of a distorted depiction of portals/RSBs in which the urban feature is seen as a crime prevention measure that emerged in the residential areas of “elites” in the city. However, this view cannot be summarily dismissed as an unfounded assumption.
RSBs themselves are articulated by early GC observers as one of the material elements of enclosure and segregation; the relationship between class divisions and segregation is emphasized in studies of GCs (Blakely and Snyder 1997; Grant and Mittelsteadt 2004). This image of urban gating is also shared among studies of conventional GCs in Indonesia that have focused mainly on the wealthy suburban areas. Most of these studies focus on macro trends, analyzing how sociopolitical changes since democratization—e.g., the growth of the housing development industry (Hogan and Houston 2002; Firman 2004; Arai 2015), rising income inequality (Roitman and Recio 2020), and the rise of the middle class (Van Leeuwen 2011; Hew 2018)—are related to the spread of conventional GCs. Meanwhile, in Jakarta, given the current situation known to the author and evidenced in some studies, RSBs can be found both inside (Van Leeuwen 2011) and outside (Kim 2002; Tadié 2009; Simone 2014) urban zones recognized as conventional GCs. Therefore, it is not reasonable to follow the perspectival trends of previous studies and make the presumption that the diffusion of RSBs is an elite-driven phenomenon, as in the case of conventional GCs. However, it is also impossible to assert that the prevalence of RSBs is a cross-class phenomenon, due to the absence of empirical evidence.
Meanwhile, given that income inequality can create spatial segregation, the social inequality assumption in GC analysis tends to be extended to account for a certain geographic pattern. Blakely and Snyder (1997), for example, argue that GCs are a manifestation of middle-class people’s desire to escape from insecure inner city neighborhoods to more secure and affluent suburbs. On the other hand, previous observations of RSBs do not show any economic or geographic tendency in terms of locus. These studies, going beyond socio-spatial indicators, focus on micro-level practices leading to the construction of RSBs and how they are influenced by, for example, violence or security issues (Kim 2002; Hishiyama 2010; Colombijn 2018), collective reactions against some source of anxiety (Tadié 2009; Simone 2014), or degree of social capital (Mizuno 2006).
The problem here is that although the intra-city regional variation in the reaction to insecurities shown in the GC study may characterize the diffusion of RSBs in a certain way, the spatial distribution of RSBs in the city has not been analyzed.
I-2 Research Questions
This paper asks a simple question: What kind of community is the major force behind the spread of RSBs in contemporary Jakarta? It considers that communities with a desire to install RSBs play an important role in the spread of such urban security tools in the city. Based on the previous discussion about RSBs’ position in GCs and local security studies, it sets three points of analysis: (1) socioeconomic characteristics of the community; (2) the community’s motivation in seeking RSBs; and (3) intra-city regional variation in the communities’ distribution.
First, while the literature review and observational facts indicate the class-independent quality of RSB spread, it is only an assumption unless empirically examined. Therefore, this paper begins with an analysis of the socioeconomic characteristics of communities that desire RSBs. Second, in situating the expansion of RSBs within local security, we found that RSBs may exist as embodiments of a collective response against crime and traffic. It would be interesting to examine whether and how motivation for having RSBs articulated by the community is associated with the two issues (crime and traffic). Third, one of the focal points in GC studies is intra-city geographic difference: namely, the suburban-concentric pattern of GC expansion. In analyzing RSBs, this paper is also interested in examining such regional differences (inner city/outer city) in the distribution of RSB-desiring communities. To investigate these points, this study builds and utilizes data on the geographic distribution of communities that have tried to install RSBs.
II Data and Methods
This study focuses on the 2010s. This is because even though the origin of RSBs can be traced back to the 1970s, their spread is a relatively recent phenomenon in Jakarta.8) The main unit of analysis is the community, which is defined as the RW-community unit in the neighborhood association (RT/RW).9) For the analysis, different datasets were combined to construct relevant data (Table 1).
The author used data from Musrenbang (Musyawarah Rencana Pembangunan, Development Planning Meeting), a participatory policy-making platform that allows communities (RWs) to create annual budget proposals. Musrenbang showed that there were many proposals related to portals/RSBs that had been made by communities. Since there is no official record of RSB installation, it is difficult to obtain data that allows us to understand the actual distribution of RSBs across the city. However, by using the proposal data from Musrenbang, we can measure whether and to what extent a community desired to install RSBs. This study used Musrenbang data from 2009 to 2015.10) Portal/RSB-related proposals were extracted from the dataset by searching for inquiries containing the word “portal.” By manually reading the text of every such proposal, its relevance to the categories of purpose predefined by the author (“construction,” “removal,” and “improvement”) was examined (Table 2).11)
Fig. 2b shows the yearly frequency of RSB-related proposals in the Musrenbang data. From 2012, more than 100 proposals were made every year on a stable basis.12) For further analysis, “removal” proposals were excluded. Then, the communities that submitted RSB proposals (“construction” or “improvement”) were treated as the communities with RSB desire. Among such communities, a variation in the number of proposals submitted was observed (Fig. 2c). This sum of proposals per community over the years was treated as the degree of RSB desire.
For community-level indicators of socioeconomic status, this paper uses building polygon data provided by OpenStreetMap (OSM) to calculate the average size of buildings within the communities that made an RSB proposal.13) Fig. 2d is a histogram showing the distribution of the average area of buildings. The higher the average building area, the lower the frequency, indicating that only a limited number of communities indicated by large building size are wealthy. Then, these data (degree of RSB desire, RSB proposals, and average building size) were combined with the polygons of community boundaries (RWs) in the city provided by OSM.
III-1 Socioeconomic Characteristics of Communities with RSB Desire
Fig. 3 shows a map of communities with RSB desire based on a combination of two indices: degree of RSB desire and economic capacity. Overall, the spatial distribution of communities with RSB desire has an inner-city-concentric pattern. Through visual inspection alone, we can see that closer to the city edges the communities’ distribution becomes less dense. Differing behavior per degree of RSB desire is also observed, where communities with a higher degree of RSB desire—especially those categorized as high—have a sparser distribution. This observation is in line with the left inset in Fig. 3, which shows the count of communities within the radius steps from the city center point (per three groups of degree of RSB desire). It shows that the higher the degree of RSB desire, the farther away the peak, indicating that communities with a lower degree of RSB desire are located largely near the city center compared to communities with a higher degree of RSB desire. It also shows that the higher the degree of RSB desire, the less stable the decrease in the count of communities along with an increase in radius. This means that while communities with a lower degree of RSB desire gradually weaken their presence in the outer city, those with a higher degree of RSB desire show a significant presence in the outer city.
Having described the overall patterns of RSB distribution, we now examine the socioeconomic characteristics of communities with RSB desire in Jakarta. In Fig. 3, more communities with a higher economic capacity (bigger point size) can be found in places closer to the edge of the city, while those with a lower building size average (economic capacity) are spread throughout the city.14) Taking a closer look, Fig. 4a shows that a significant portion of communities with a low degree of RSB desire have average building sizes slightly lower than the median and a distance from the center slightly above the median. Meanwhile, in the case of communities with a high degree of RSB desire, Fig. 4c shows that densely populated spots move in the opposite direction from that observed in communities with a low degree of RSB desire.15)
This observation recalls the point made by GC studies that gated living is popular in outer and wealthy parts of the city. However, the difference is that for communities with RSB desire, the wealthy outer-city communities do not represent the majority. This is because of two reasons: first, the inner-city-concentric pattern of the communities’ distribution in general; and second, a significant and scatter presence of less wealthy communities that have a desire for RSBs.
III-2 Motivation to Install RSBs: Crime or Traffic?
Contagion Process of RSB Desire
Next, we move to the second point of analysis: the motivation of communities in requesting RSBs. As a starting point of analysis, it is useful to review some contents of the proposals, especially those submitted by communities with a high degree of RSB desire. To do so, it is necessary to articulate the importance of communities with a high degree of RSB desire in the overall proliferation of RSBs.
Recalling the spatial distribution of communities (Fig. 3), those with higher RSB desire are less likely to exist in isolation, regardless of economic capacity. To make a further inference, a community with higher RSB desire may play a significant role in the contagion process of RSB desire in each locality. It must be noted that the willingness to possess RSBs is, conversely, also a perception of RSB shortage. From the Musrenbang data, the degree of RSB desire is indicated by the total number of proposals submitted. This shows how much a sense of RSB scarcity has been accumulated in the community. Communities with low RSB desire (only one proposal in our sample) are those that once had a willingness to possess RSBs but later lost awareness of the RSB shortage for some reason or circumstance, and thus their willingness did not accumulate. On the other hand, communities with a degree of RSB desire as high as “4~6” are those that submitted proposals consecutively from year to year, i.e., their willingness to install RSBs accumulated.16) In other words, a high degree of RSB desire is a state in which, for whatever reason, the sense of RSB scarcity does not resolve easily and does not disappear over time, but rather accumulates and grows.
Thus, communities that are highly motivated to possess RSBs tend to be the senior communities in an area compared to others in the area that also have RSB desire. This point is in line with the right inset of Fig. 3, which shows the box plot of the year of first RSB proposal application per degree of RSB desire (the total number of proposals submitted by RWs). The higher the total number of proposals, the more the distribution of the first application year concentrates on earlier years. From Fig. 3, it is clear that the spread of communities with RSB desire is characterized by the existence of some local cluster zones where communities with a high degree of RSB desire are surrounded by others. From this observation, we can assume that the formation of such zones starts with the emergence of communities with a high degree of RSB desire. Therefore, communities with a high degree of RSB desire play an important role in the spread of RSBs in the city because they are the starting points for the contagion of RSB desire.
Next, we take a deeper look at the contents of the proposals submitted by some communities. Communities with a high degree of RSB desire tend to put forward consistent proposal contents over time.17) For instance, RW6 in Bintaro, part of a residential area developed as a large conventional GC on the southern edge of Jakarta, expressed concerns related to road safety. This community submitted four proposals from 2012 to 2014, with double applications in 2013. Except for one proposal in 2013 that was more related to concerns about theft, the rest of the proposals had the same articulated reason: “potential risk of traffic accidents” in the area.18)
In contrast, RW15 in Semper Barat, one of the densely populated areas in the northern part of the city, expressed concerns related to crime and violence. The community submitted one proposal each year from 2011 to 2015. The contents of the first proposal were related to road safety issues: “the unavailability of road safety facilities or portals for roads.” After that, this community began to include two keywords in the statement of reasons for the RSB construction request: “motorcycle theft (curanmor)” and “neighborhood brawls (tawuran).”
Similar to RW15 in Semper Barat, RW5 in Slipi submitted one proposal each year from 2011 to 2015. However, the contents of the proposals submitted by this community were less consistent than the other two. At the time of the first application, this community expressed concerns about a specific type of theft: “motorcycle theft.” After that, from 2013 to 2014, the mention of “motorcycle theft” was replaced by “theft” in general. Finally, in 2015, the expressed motivation became more related to road safety issues: “the roads are unsafe because there are no portals.” From the author’s observation, this community began installing CCTVs in 2015 in many spots prior to the construction of RSBs in 2017 on some of the small streets that serve as entry points into the residential area.19) Thus, we can deduce that this community initially wanted RSBs for crime prevention, but that was not possible for certain reasons. Instead, CCTVs were installed; and since then, RSBs have been desired not for crime prevention but for traffic safety.
From a brief review of the proposals’ contents, it is clear that there are two major types of issues behind RSB requests: crime and traffic. This is consistent with Fig. 5, which shows the most frequent words for (a) a noun repeated in multiple applications by communities with high RSB desire, and (b) a noun for all proposals. From Fig. 5, keamanan (security), pencurian (theft), curanmor (motorcycle theft), kejahatan (crime), and tawuran (neighborhood brawls) may represent the crime-related keywords, while motor (motorcycle), kendaraan (vehicle), jalan (street), and kecelakaan (accident) may represent the traffic-related keywords. In this way, we can see that traffic-related keywords are less likely to be repeated in multiple applications than crime-related keywords. One way to interpret this finding is that crime-related issues in the community are harder to resolve than traffic-related ones.
III-3 Regional Variation
Finally, we move to the third point of analysis: regional variation in the spread of communities with RSB desire. Drawing on previous results, three aspects of analysis are determined: (1) the existence of communities with RSB desire; (2) the heterogeneity of degree of RSB desire; and (3) the motivational association of RSB desire. In order to compare the regional variation of these aspects, the variables are aggregated on the scale of the district (kecamatan).
For the existence of communities with RSB desire, Fig. 6a shows the percentage of communities (RWs) in the district that submitted at least one RSB proposal over the year. The Moran’s I in Fig. 6a (0.41) indicates that the distribution of the percentage of communities with RSB desire is clustered in a certain part of the city. Consistent with previous findings, such a concentration occurs in the inner part of the city, as the inset of Fig. 6a shows a clear decreasing trend of mean value by increase in radius.
For the heterogeneity of degree of RSB desire, Fig. 6b shows the Gini index of proposal counts per community in the district. It shows that the heterogeneity of degree of RSB desire has no spatial correlation. Previous findings indicate that communities with a high degree of RSB desire trigger the local contagion process and create local clusters of communities with a diverse degree of RSB desire. Such cases of local contagion are randomly located all over the regions in the city, as the inset of Fig. 6b also shows no stable trend.
For the motivational association of RSB desire, two plots have been made of the total number of proposals in the district that contain crime-related keywords (Fig. 6c) and traffic-related keywords (Fig. 6d). For both sets of keywords, a weak and similar level of spatial correlation is observed. This indicates that while a pattern of an inner city center and gradual outward diffusion affects the distribution of communities with RSB desire, it only slightly affects the distribution of issues associated with RSB desire. Furthermore, crime-related and traffic-related issues have different inner-to-outer-city distribution patterns. For crime-related keywords, the mean value of counts of proposals containing the keywords among the districts per radius step (inset of Fig. 6c) shows a mild decreasing trend. For traffic-related keywords (inset of Fig. 6d), it shows a rapid initial drop and a mild increasing tendency afterward. To summarize, in Jakarta RSB desire spreads through the concentration belt in the inner city and local clusters scattered throughout the city, with crime-related desire more centrally clustered than traffic-related desire.
The analysis reveals three major findings. First, an inner-city-concentric pattern of the overall distribution of communities with RSB desire is observed. Second, some distinct behaviors of communities with a high degree of RSB desire are identified. Third, a coexistence of crime- and traffic-related RSB desires and different regional variations between the two are found.
The first finding indicates that the collective sense of insecurity is concentrated in the inner parts of the city. The logical explanation for this is that inner city residential areas are usually characterized by a high crime rate, unsafe roads, and unclear distinction of public space. In such places, it is not surprising that many RSBs are required, and their concentration creates a space with characteristics of a “security zone” which Blakely and Snyder (1997) have depicted as a kind of GC prevalent in the inner city.
Beyond the logical explanation, some previous observations on RSBs in Jakarta have argued that the increase in the sense of insecurity in the inner city after democratization prompted the installation of RSBs by relatively wealthy communities (Kim 2002; Colombijn 2018). The roots of post-democratization insecurity lie in the societal upheaval and rioting that took place around the time of regime change: especially in Jakarta, ethnic Chinese people living mainly in the inner city were severely victimized by looting and violence. During this period, temporary barricades were built in communities near these danger zones; many of them were eventually replaced by more permanent RSBs, which were then normalized in the following years (Colombijn 2018). In some cases, RSBs were established after the situation stabilized (Kim 2002). It has also been reported that this riot-triggered RSB adoption occurred throughout the relatively affluent inner city neighborhoods and was not limited to ethnic Chinese neighborhoods (Kompas 1998a; 1998b; 1998c; 1999).
Considering the inner-city-specific sources of insecurity and RSB desire, two possible dynamics must be further noted. This study covers the relatively recent distribution of RSB desire in the 2010s. Given that, one possible reason why the collective desire to have RSBs in the inner city has become so prevalent during the post-democratization era is that inner city communities have recently developed a strong sense of insecurity due to factors such as post-democratization social changes. On the other hand, we also assume that while such insecurity has existed for a relatively long time, there are conditions in inner city neighborhoods that make it difficult to install RSBs. Even when RSBs are installed, they often need to be repaired or built afresh, leading to the persistent emergence of RSB-desiring communities in recent years.
Regarding the second finding, communities with a high degree of RSB desire have a relatively wealthy socioeconomic status and an important role in the local contagion process. It is no coincidence that many communities with a strong RSB desire are more affluent than other communities. Some past studies have argued that RSBs are one of the built features in Jakarta that have a deep symbolic dimension (Simone 2014; Kuno 2022). This is one aspect of RSBs that makes communities want them repeatedly, more than they need them for their functional (security/safety) purposes. As a strong desire for RSBs in such a way involves a cost, many communities with a high degree of RSB desire are relatively affluent.
Interestingly, the analysis indicated that communities with a strong desire for RSBs serve as the starting point of the local contagion process: once such a community emerges, other nearby communities also want RSBs. This type of transmission is related to the inter-community interaction that has been pointed out as a factor of RSB diffusion in some previous studies in Jakarta (Tadié 2009; Roitman and Recio 2020) as well as in other cities in the global south (Plöger 2006; Nijman 2010). These studies focus on a variety of inter-community interactions but share the argument that a certain form of local contestation over space affects the adoption of urban gating. The results of this paper may further add the insight that following such inter-community interactions, the contagion of varying degrees of desire tends to occur especially when there is a community in the area that has a strong desire for RSBs. It also means that such an area with a local cluster of RSB desire can be the place where access and the usage of spaces are highly contested. In such areas, we may also find some cases where the drive for RSBs diffuses from affluent to less affluent communities. Moreover, local clusters centering in these highly desiring communities are randomly scattered throughout the city. This can be one of the reasons why while the distribution of RSB desire is generally inner city concentric, it is not confined to the inner city but is diffused throughout the city.
On the other hand, Kusno (2012) provided an interesting picture of the socio-spatial order of residential segregation in Jakarta. He argued that whereas the urban poor flow in and out of the city because of their unstable and insecure livelihood, a socio-spatial layer of “collective isolation” is created selectively in the inner city and massively in the outer city for advantaged residents (Kusno 2012, 55). Drawing on these findings, we can add that in between the gated zones designated for advantaged residents, there is a significant presence of economically less affluent communities that also embrace gating—both in the inner and outer parts of the city. This indicates that residential segregation in the city has a layer of cross-class interactions that contribute to the widespread circulation of desires, insecurities, and ideas regarding RSB construction.
Finally, the last result suggests that while the source of such a collective sense of insecurity is more associated with crime for communities in inner parts of Jakarta, it is more associated with traffic for communities in outer parts of the city. As indicated in the literature review, while these two kinds of RSB desire have emerged over time, it is not clear which is the original one. Fig. 5b also shows no consistent tendency in terms of the time of submission for both sets of keywords.20) In other words, it is better to view these two kinds of RSB desire as intertwined collective attitudes. Therefore, the findings indicate that such a mixture of crime-related and traffic-related insecurities occurs mainly in the inner city. And the farther we go to the outer parts of the city, the less crime-related insecurity there is, and the more traffic-related insecurity remains.21)
The cross-class diffusion of RSBs reflects the condition in contemporary Jakarta, where both crime- and traffic-related insecurities are closely related to people’s daily lives regardless of class, though the quality of such experiences may differ by class. Considering the extensive spatial range of the spread of traffic-related RSB desire, we can assume that traffic is more closely related to the cross-class spread of RSB desire. As the city saw a rapid increase in the number of vehicles and congestion after democratization, many aspects of everyday dynamics in contemporary Jakarta became affected by routine traffic issues (Lee 2015). As this paper shows that most communities in Jakarta began installing RSBs in the 2000s or later (Fig. 2a), the growth in urban flows and traffic-related problems can be associated with the spread of RSBs in contemporary Jakarta. Given that, we can make another interesting speculation from Fig. 3: many communities with RSB desire are located near the major arterial roads, as if their spatial arrangement was superimposed on the route of those roads. In such places, residents may be concerned about the danger of traffic accidents, as in the case of RW6 in Bintaro. Even in inner city neighborhoods such as RW5 in Slipi, where crime is a major concern, once the problem is handled, people’s concerns may shift to traffic-related issues. As such, the spread of RSB desire in the city is sustained by the spatial distribution of traffic-related desire covering a wide area beyond the concentric spots in the inner parts of the city.
This paper shows that the spread of RSBs is a cross-class phenomenon. This cross-class spread neither validates nor contradicts arguments about the influence of the class factor in residential segregation and securitization. However, it does show that RSBs’ presence in the city is ubiquitous as it becomes a common feature of Jakarta’s neighborhood spaces. Also, this pattern of RSB spread is not constrained by certain types of residential spaces, such as conventional GCs. Therefore, by empirically demonstrating the ubiquitous presence of RSBs, this paper indicates that a large portion of urban features causing residential segregation and securitization in the city have not been captured in previous studies.
Moreover, by investigating communities that desire RSBs, this paper identifies some characteristics of communities that have become a major force behind the spread of such security devices. First, it shows that communities with RSB desire have an inner-city-concentric pattern of diffusion. Second, it finds that the cross-class spread of RSBs is characterized by the dispersed presence of communities that have a strong and persistent desire for RSBs, which also play an important role in the local contagion process. Third, it demonstrates that RSBs are a manifestation of a collective sense of insecurity which is a mix of crime- and traffic-related concerns. In the context of the contemporary prevalence of RSBs, the study discusses the possible correlation between the recent growth in urban flows and the extensive and non-monotonic distribution of traffic-related RSB desire.
One of the shortcomings of this paper is that the data and analysis are confined within the boundaries of Jakarta as a province. Jakarta as a province is part of the larger urban area of Greater Jakarta. Thus, this paper captures only a portion of the urban-to-suburban distribution of the studied object. However, put another way, this study confirms that there are inner-outer city variations in various aspects of RSB spread, even within the boundaries of Jakarta as a province. This is a detail and important fact that is often overlooked in previous studies that have focused on the dynamics of residential segregation and security in suburban areas. Nevertheless, in the future, the analysis in this paper should be conducted in other locations in Greater Jakarta to investigate how the identified inner-outer city variations develop in suburban areas.
Another limitation of this study is that the discussion is based on the degree of communities’ desire to have RSBs, which does not capture the relationship between the degree of desire and the actual presence of RSBs in communities. In other words, we have not clarified whether communities with a low desire for RSBs are communities that already have enough RSBs, or whether the shift in the degree of desire for RSBs correlates with the number of pre-existing RSBs. Furthermore, the nature of the dataset in this paper assumes the community to be a homogeneous entity, which undermines the complexity of the spread of RSBs in the city. Therefore, further research is needed to construct a dataset that will allow us to understand the actual distribution of RSBs throughout Jakarta.
Accepted: June 6, 2022
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1) The prohibition on erecting RSBs without permission has been explicitly mentioned in Jakarta’s regional laws since the late 1980s:
• Article 3, Letters a, b, and c, Jakarta Regional Law, No. 11/1988 on Public Order.
• Article 14, Letter a, Jakarta Regional Law, No. 9/1992 on Traffic and Road Transport.
• Article 53, Letter c, Jakarta Regional Law, No. 12/2003 on Traffic and Road, Train, Rivers and Lakes Transport and Crossing.
• Article 3, Letter b, Jakarta Regional Law, No. 8/2007 on Public Order (currently in effect).
• Article 74, Letter c, Jakarta Regional Law, No. 5/2014 on Transportation (currently in effect).
2) For instance, in 2009 and 2014 RSB demolition instructions were issued in Jakarta (Governor Instruction No. 162/2014 on Opening of Access of Streets in Residential Areas for the Public Interest and Governor Instruction No. 47/2009 on Order of Street Usage in Neighborhoods and Real-Estate Residential Areas). The difference between the 2009 and 2014 instructions on RSB demolition was that while in 2009 there was reference to regional law on public order, in 2014 there was no specific reference to regional law, with the justification focusing on the “public interest” concerning growing traffic congestion in the city. In both cases, a resident group in Pondok Indah, one of the typical upper-class conventional GC districts in the city, conducted a protest movement, though without success (Tempo 2009; Otosia.com 2013). On the other hand, unlike the Pondok Indah case, the protest movement against the RSB demolition policy conducted by a resident group in Bekasi, a satellite city of Jakarta, in 2013 was successful in making the regional administrative courts acknowledge local government misconduct and force the cancellation of the policy (Court Decision Number 150/G/2013/PTUN-BDG).
3) For Fig. 2a, data was obtained from the Lembaga Musyawarah Kelurahan (“Ward Deliberation”; LMK) survey conducted by the author in 2019. With the help of Forum Komunikasi LMK Jakarta (the LMK communication forum in Jakarta), the author’s team could disseminate the questionnaire at a post-Ramadan gathering of LMKs on July 24, 2019, to which LMK members from all over Jakarta were invited. Questionnaires were returned by 252 respondents, representing approximately 9 percent of all LMKs in Jakarta. In the survey, respondents were asked about when portals had been initially constructed in their neighborhood.
4) Apart from the residential setting, the construction of portals as supplementary tools for the management of street usage and the growing traffic was pervasive during the mid-New Order period. For instance, in the early 1980s ordinary villagers were mobilized by the local government of West Sumatra Province to build and operate portals in order to stop and inspect overloaded trucks to prevent them from driving on the Cross-Sumatran Highway (Kompas 1981). Also in the late 1980s, in response to a growing number of accidents at railway crossings, there was an attempt by the state-owned railway company to supply simple swing-up portals for every railway crossing in the country as an alternative to more sophisticated electronic gates (Suara Karya 1989; Suara Pembaruan 1989).
5) For instance, the World Bank’s evaluation of the KIP in Jakarta and Surabaya states: “many residents are thankful that many pathways block access by car, which they see as dangerous, noisy, and polluting” (World Bank 1995, 41). In addition, reflecting on portals made during the KIP program, a Jakarta resident wrote in a newspaper’s interactive column in 1994: “the portal is very important for the order and comfort of neighborhoods” (Suara Pembaruan 1994). Beyond the KIP context, it is recorded that in 1987 a set of portals installed by a community in East Jakarta was removed by the local government public order forces, but the residents protested to the district office because “they were worried about the deterioration of security situation there” due to the demolition of portals (Kompas 1987).
6) The New Order’s intervention in neighborhood associations refers to the series of institutional attempts to partition the space and authority of neighborhoods around the 1980s. It includes the codification of neighborhood associations as grassroots administration and community units in almost all regions via the enactment of Ministry of Home Affairs Regulation No. 7 in 1983 (Kurasawa 2011, 294). Slightly before the codification of neighborhood associations, the ronda (night watch) revitalization policy, known as siskamling (sistem keamanan lingkungan; neighborhood security system), was announced by police in 1981. Siskamling made ronda, which was previously implemented based on the discretion of the respective communal leaderships, a community-based security program that was incorporated into lines of coordination with the state apparatus. This was one of the forms of neighborhood securitization during the New Order that was arguably part of the regime’s attempts to establish a set of tools for public order management penetrating the grassroots layer of society through physical and symbolic intervention in local powers, ranging from preman (freemen/thugs) to community leaders (Barker 1998, 11–17; Kobayashi 2004, 107–108). It is interesting to note that the background of the emergence of RSBs in Indonesia is similar to the case in Malaysia described by Peter Aning Tedong et al. (2015). While some observers and empirical facts (Fig. 2a) indicate that RSBs’ spread is a contemporary phenomenon, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that RSBs/portals are replacing old and labor-intensive forms of local security (night watch and security guards). However, it is safe to say that the early emergence of RSBs/portals in urban spaces coincides with the period when local security was established during the New Order.
7) Firman Lubis was a professor of medicine at the University of Indonesia who specialized in community health. After being involved in a project supporting a national program of birth control (Keluarga Berencana; Planned Family), he became interested in the social history of the city, which he then extensively covered in his autobiography (Rizki 2018).
8) As indicated in Fig. 2a, it is likely that communities that began installing RSBs in the 2010s are responsible for the spread of RSBs to the point where they can now be found in all areas of the city. The recent dynamics of RSB spread are also important because past research correlates RSBs with post-democratization societal changes.
9) The neighborhood association (RT/RW) in present-day Indonesia is a community unit formed as a set of two-leveled organizations in a ward (kelurahan): (1) groups of households (RT or rukun tetangga); and (2) groups of RTs (RW or rukun warga). While the RT/RW is run by local residents, it also serves as the smallest administrative division.
10) This is made available online for free by the Jakarta government.
11) It must be noted that most of the RSB proposals were rejected in the government’s final decision. In fact, given the continual and somewhat inefficient rejection of proposals, the local government finally decided to forbid RWs from submitting proposals related to portals. The Musrenbang guidelines in 2018 and 2019 for Rembuk RW (RW Community Board; representing the RW-level proposal-making stage) explicitly stated that RWs were not allowed to propose pembangunan portal (construction of portals); in this connection, it was also forbidden to make proposals not in line with kepentingan umum (public interest) (Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Daerah 2018, 6; 2019, 9). This means that RSBs-as-portals were somewhat illegitimate in the legal sense and in a gray area in the social sense. The RSB-related proposals discussed in this paper were submitted at a time when the legal validity and public relevance of RSBs had not yet been clarified. Accordingly, the communities that submitted RSB-related proposals, especially those categorized as “construction” and “improvement,” can be considered as being solid drivers of RSBs, because they submitted these proposals even though the legitimacy of their inquiry was unclear and often ultimately denied.
12) This could be because of the establishment of the online application procedure.
13) This method was chosen as an alternative way to obtain community-level indicators of socioeconomic status, which was a challenging task because the smallest sample unit for official surveys in Indonesia is usually the kelurahan (ward), not the community. We can assume that the larger the size of a building, the richer the owner; therefore, regions with a high concentration of large buildings represent a cluster of economic strength. In this way, the average size of buildings in a community (m2) can be taken to represent the community’s economic capacity. However, we must admit that, for various reasons, calculating economic indices directly from building polygon data has some limitations. These were addressed in the following ways. The author utilized land use data provided by the Jakarta government, and only extracted the buildings located on land classified as residential, to avoid the influence of other building types, e.g., shops and offices. This filtering process was also used to discard residential structures with obvious outlier qualities such as apartment blocks, pavilions, and dormitories. In this process, communities with NA values on either the residential land use layer or the building polygon layer were omitted.
14) However, it must be noted that this pattern makes an exception for communities with a high degree of RSB desire, because they have a generally sparse distribution.
15) In the case of communities with an intermediate level of RSB desire, Fig. 4b shows that although there is no overt concentration region as in Figs. 4a and 4c, many communities are distributed within the range of values around the concentration area observed in Figs. 4a and 4c.
16) The condition behind the disappearance of RSB desire includes the subsequent installation of RSBs.
17) As shown in Table 2, the proposal format is designed to provide a proposed “solution” to a “problem” in the community (the exact format varies from year to year, but these two elements have been used consistently). In this context, reason/motivation refers to the content of the “problem.”
18) As in the case of RW6 in Bintaro, the exact same reasons were articulated in multiple applications by RW4 in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, where the community proposed the replacement of an old RSB with a new one because “the iron is damaged and the bar is broken,” without articulating the specific concern related to the RSB’s installation.
19) Interview with local RW head and LMK member, September 8, 2019.
20) It is unclear whether the number of notations in proposals submitted after 2012 is higher or lower than those submitted before that time, in terms of either traffic-related or crime-related keywords.
21) This also shows that crime and traffic are basically interrelated issues, especially in inner city neighborhoods, as streets are among the usual sites of property crime in community spaces.