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Labor Flows and the Construction Industry: The Case of Housing Development in Bandung, Indonesia

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Item Summary

Title:Labor Flows and the Construction Industry: The Case of Housing Development in Bandung, Indonesia
Authors:Firman, Tommy
Contributors:Chapman, Murray (advisor)
Geography and Environment (department)
construction workers
migrant labor
housing development
show 4 moreconstruction industry
labor supply
labor economics
labor relations
show less
Date Issued:Aug 1988
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 1988]
Abstract:This study examines the interactions between population mobility and the macro socioeconomic processes of a third world society. It focuses on the movement of wage workers from the standpoint of a housing construction project at Antapani in Bandung, Indonesia. In particular, it aims to address two sets of research questions. First, to what degree are housing construction workers, drawn from the village to engage in jobs at urban development sites, following an adaptive strategy in reaction to the uncertainty of rural incomes? Second, to what extent does a segmentary labor market reflect itself in the labor relations of the housing construction industry? These concerns are explicitly connected in two broad propositions. First, most construction workers are villagers who circulate between rural communities and urban housing sites; and second, the labor market in the construction industry is highly segmented. This study is geographical in orientation for it examines the spatial links between migrant workers at urban project sites and their rural households of origin.
These concerns are approached in terms of three dimensions: population mobility, considered in a multilevel and integrated manner; labor market segmentation; and the adaptive strategy of rural household. The research questions are pursued through detailed examination of a particular rural-urban case: a housing project at Antapani in west Java, and the rural community of Slendro in central Java, from which many construction workers are drawn.
Guided by its propositions, this primary study concludes that the practice of labor segmentation in housing construction projects reflects how large firms maximize their control over the process of labor recruitment and management. The workforce consists of several types of workers, each of which experiences different employment conditions and exhibits variable commitment to the industry. Only a small fraction of workers is hired directly by the project contractor and the great majority are recruited by subcontractors of labor.
The labor market in the construction industry is not competitive, in that subcontractors (mandors) prefer to recruit workers from their work gangs, members of whom are drawn mainly from their own village. With this system of employment, improved construction skills can only be acquired by transferring from one work gang to a different one on the same project or, more frequently, from one site to another. Job and migration histories reveal that the more skilled workers are, the greater their commitment to a particular project, whereas unskilled workers change construction jobs quite frequently. This contrast summarizes the ways in which methods and patterns of recruiting a workforce are reflected in flows of construction labor.
In general, migrant workers shift far more often from site to site than do the nonmigrant, work more hours, and stay longer on the construction site. They are also more willing to accept lower weekly wages and minimize daily urban expenditures by reducing expenditures on food and by living rent free in project houses still under construction. Migrants are also responsible for paying transport costs between their rural communities and the construction site. Considered from the standpoint of project management, migrants constitute a far more reliable and cheap workforce than do the nonmigrant.
For migrant labor, being employed on a project site aims primarily to supplement rural incomes. Closer examination of eighteen households in Slendro village, in central Java, indicates that families sent adult members to Antapani to earn money in preference to them engaging in local agricultural activities. Some family members may also travel to cities to work as domestic servants, factory personnel, and food traders; yet others commute between Slendro village and Sragen city to sell produce and other local items in the open market. This dispersion of a family's membership to several different location means that, in structure, it has become bi- or multilocal.
In general, this study has confirmed both its propositions. Yet detailed examination of both the Antapani project site and the Slendro community reveals the interlinkages between contractors, mandors, workers, and members of rural households to be far more complex and diverse than had been anticipated involving as they do both the personal characteristics of the actors and the peculiar nature of urban and rural conditions.
This study makes four principal contributions. First, it establishes how the scale of human behavior is linked with the varying territorial contexts of rural-urban relations and the complex interactions existing between population movement and the dynamics of socioeconomic change. Secondly it uses the strategy of indepth field enquiry to demonstrate a scale-linkage approach to population movement. Thirdly, it reveals population mobility to be a spatially discontinuous process that both connects and gives territorial expression to the dynamic of labor market segmentation and rural household strategies. This is rather different from neoclassical thinking that views population movement as a direct function of rural-urban income differentials. Finally, this study has contributed towards a broader understanding of industrialization in Indonesia by delineating the complex interactions that exist between urban industrial activities and the rural households of Javanese society.
Description:PhD University of Hawaii at Manoa 1988
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 374–398).
Pages/Duration:xviii, 398 leaves, bound : illustrations, maps ; 29 cm
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Geography

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