Power, Welfare and Democracy Conference 2017

Join our two-days closing conference "Lessons learned from Indonesia in comparative perspectives, especially Myanmar and Scandinavia". We will summarise all major findings and discuss the implications for domestic and international policy making.

Aung San Suu Ky

State Counsellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Ky, on election day in 2015. Photo: Audun Aagre

Scholars from the University of Oslo (Norway) and Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia) have since 2012 conducted collaborative research on “Power, Welfare and Democracy (PWD)”, based on previous studies with research organisations in civil society, and funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta.

The PWD project has examined the character and challenges of democratisation in Indonesia, and how it relates to power relations and social welfare in society.


The concluding project conference will examine the following questions:

  • What lessons can be learnt about the dynamics and challenges of democratisation and inclusion in Indonesia?
  • What is their broader relevance for related experiences of elite-led transition in Myanmar?
  • What lessons can be learned for international support of social rights and democracy?

The conference will include presentations by the key scholars of each PWD sub-project:

  • Democratisation and substantial democracy (the PWD Democracy Survey)
  • Politics of citizenship on how citizenship is produced and practiced through diverse movements for cultural recognition, social redistribution and political representation, and contentious interactions between popular movements and political elites in different sectors, political spaces and scales
  • Welfare regimes on varieties of welfare production processes and mechanisms in different social and political contexts
  • Local regimes in the context of decentralisation
  • Anthropological studies on UN-REDD+

The research results from Indonesia will be presented in sections addressing six crucial and timely themes:  

  • Dynamics of democratisation, assessments of outcomes
  • Politics of power-sharing and conflict resolution
  • Politics of resource extraction and sustainable development
  • Politics of citizenship
  • Banking on Popular Leaders and Facing Right-Wing Populism
  • Implications for International Cooperation

In each theme, leading scholars and experts on South- and Southeast Asia (especially Myanmar) and Scandinavia will add their insights and discuss the wider relevance of the results.


The conference is open to schoilars, policymakers and practitioners, but has limited capacity. Registration is thus required. Please register by sending your name and affiliation to kristian.stokke@sosgeo.uio.no

Learning from Indonesia:

The PWD project and related collaborative research have benefitted from reading the Indonesian challenges against those in other countries in the Global South as well as in Scandinavia. When summarising the results, it is time to reverse the perspective by asking what can be learnt from Indonesia.

What are the lessons for studies of other key countries in South and Southeast Asia, especially Myanmar ?
And what insights should Scandinavia consider in trying to support democratisation towards equity and sustainable development in these and other Asian countries?

The main focus of the PWD studies have been the problems and option of democratisation in terms of institutional development as well as the political capacity of the powerful actors and those striving for more inclusive democracy. After the collapse of the Suharto regime, Indonesia and its international allies agreed on promoting economic freedom, good governance, decentralisation and liberal democracy through agreements among moderate elites and by fostering civil society.

The assumption was that these elites would turn democrats by adjusting to the new institutions and that pro-democrats would foster change from their positions in civil society. In terms of reduced military influence, freedoms, elections and stability, this has been remarkably successful – but not in terms of governance and representation of various interests and ideas.

These shortcomings are closely linked to the character of the democratic transition, and especially how it accommodated old elites while referring organised pro-democrats to civil society. Additional factors include biased institutions of representation and poor political capacity of the democratic actors of change.

More recently, populism and demands for public welfare reforms has come with opportunities for change, but also informalisation and authoritarian identity politics. These core characteristics and dynamics have had a formative influence on post-transition politics of citizenship, the character of welfare regimes, the nature of decentralisation and local regimes, and the implementation of international sustainable development initiatives such as UN-REDD+. 

More information about the PWD project

Published Oct. 30, 2017 4:04 PM - Last modified Mar. 2, 2018 1:08 PM