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Through the Eyes of Researcher: Form and Variation in Balinese Village Structure  

by on Monday, 21 April 20083 Comments | 1,185 views

Here is an interesting article by Clifford Geertz on Balinese village structure

As ALL things Balinese, Balinese villages are peculiar, complicated, and extraordinarily diverse. There is no simple uniformity of social structure to be found over the whole of the small, crowded countryside, no straightforward form of village organization easily pictured in terms of single typological construction, no “average” village, a description of which may well stand for the whole. Rather, there is a set of marvelously complex social systems, no one of which is quite like any other, no one of which fails to show some marked peculiarity of form. Even contiguous villages may be quite differently organized; formal elements–such as caste or kinship–of central importance in one village may be of marginal significance in another; and each of the twentyfive or so villages sampled in the Tabanan and Klungkung regions of south Bali in 1957–a total area of only some 450 square miles–showed important structural features in some sense idiosyncratic with respect to the others. Neither simplicity nor uniformity are Balinese virtues.

Yet all these small-scale social systems are clearly of a family. They represent variations, however intricate, on a common set of organizational themes, so that what is constant in Balinese village structure is the set of components out of which it is constructed, not the structure itself. These components are in themselves discrete, more or less independent of one another: the Balinese village is in no sense a corporate territorial unit coordinating all aspects of life in terms of residence and land ownership, as peasant villages have commonly been described, but it is rather a compound of social structures, each based on a different principle of social affiliation and adjusted to one another only insofar as seems essential. It is this multiple, composite nature of Balinese village structure which makes possible its high degree of variation while maintaining a general formal type, for the play between the several discrete structural forms is great enough to allow a wide range of choice as to the mode of their integration with one another in any particular instance. Like so many organic compounds composed of the same molecules arranged in different configurations, Balinese villages display a wide variation in structure on the basis of a set of invariant fundamental ingredients.

Perhaps the best systematic formulation of this type of village structure is to conceptualize it in terms of the intersection of theoretically separable planes of social organization. Each such plane consists of a set of social institutions based on a wholly different principle of affiliation, a different manner of grouping individuals or keeping them apart. In any particular village all important planes will be present, but the way in which they are adjusted to one another, the way in which they intersect, will differ, for there is no clear principIe in terms of which this intersection must be formed. The analysis of village structure therefore consists in first discriminating the organizational planes of significance and then describing the manner in which, in actual fact, they intersect.

In Bali, seven such planes are of major significance, based on: (1) shared obligation to worship at a given temple, (2) common residence, (3) ownership of rice land lying within a single watershed, (4) commonality of ascribed social status or caste, (5) consanguineal and affinal kinship ties, (6) common membership in one or another “voluntary” organization, and (7) common legal subordination to a single government administrative official. In the following paper, I will first analyze each of these planes of organization, then describe three villages as examples of differing modes of intersection of these planes, and finally offer a discussion of some of the theoretical implications of this type of village organization.


1. Shared obligation to worship at a given temple.

Bali is a land of temples. One sees them everywhere–under the village banyan tree, in the midst of rice fields, by waterfalls, in the centers of large towns, by a graveyard, at the sea edge, on a lake island, in every houseyard, at the mountain top–everywhere; of all sizes and in all conditions of repair; all or most showing the traditional form: the high brick walls, the intricately carved split gate, the tall pagodalike altars with their storeyed thatched roofs.2 And there are no ruins in Bali: to each of these thousands of temples there is attached both an hereditary priest and a definite congregation of worshipers obligated to perform detailed ritual activities within its walls at fixed intervals, most commonly every six months. Such a congregation is said to njungsung the temple–literally to carry it on its head, as women carry nearly everything in Bali, including the elaborate offerings they bring to the temples on festival days.3 Every family in Bali, unless it be Christian or Moslem, carries at least a half dozen templescalled pura–on its head.

Of the great variety of pura, by far the most important to the Balinese are the Kahyangan-Tiga. Kahyangan is an honorific word for temple (meaning literally “place of the gods”), indicating a pura of unusual importance, and tiga means three–thus, “the three great temples.” There are probably over a thousand sets of such temples in Bali, with membership ranging from fifty up to several thousand families; the three temples concerned in any particular locality are the Pura Puseh, or origin temple, theoretically the temple built at the time of the first settlement of the area; the Pura Dalam, or graveyard temple for the spirits of the local dead; and the Pura Balai Agung, or “great council temple” (of the gods), dedicated primarily to maintaining the fertility of the surrounding rice fields. At the first two of these temples festivals are held once in every 210–day Balinese year, at the third once in a lunar year, the specific days depending upon the tradition of the individual temples. At such festival times the gods are conceived to descend from heaven, remain for three days, and then return to their home, and the congregation is obligated to entertain them during the time of their stay by means of complex offerings, elaborate rituals, and skillful artistic performances under the general direction of the temple priest and the secular head of the temple. The cost of the festivals, the rather large amounts of labor involved, and the general upkeep of the temples falls on each member of the congregation equally, and this group is typically organized in some fairly complicated manner to achieve these ends.

As mentioned, Kahyangan- Tiga membership is defined territorially, each Balinese belonging to just one of the sets. Nevertheless, one cannot say, as have most scholars, that he belongs to the temple of his “village,” and thus that Kahyangan- Tiga can be translated “the three village temples,” because only in the limiting case are the boundaries of the basic territorial political unit, here called the hamlet, and of the Kahyangan- Tiga congregation coterminous; in most instances, the religious and political units are not coordinate but cross-cut one another. Whatever the Balinese village mayor may not be, it is not simply definable as all people worshiping at one set of Kahyangan-Tiga, because people so obligated to worship commonly form a group for no other social function–political, economic, familiar, or whatever. The congregation of the Kahyangan-Tiga is, in essence, a specifically religious body; in most cases it comes together only at the obligatory temple festivals.4 Thus, the oft-repeated and much-loved rites at these temples serve to form one crucial bond among rural Balinese of a generally territorial sort, but this bond balances off against other bonds formed in terms of more concretely social activities rather than, as is typical of religious ties, directly reinforcing them.

Besides the Kahyangan-Tiga there are dozens of other types of temples, with different bases in terms of which their congregations are formed: there are ricefield temples, at which worship the men who own land within a particular irrigation society; there are kinship temples, supported by members of a single patriline; there are caste temples where only people with a given rank worship; there are associational temples formed on a voluntary companionate basis, their obligations being inherited by their descendents; there are state temples attended by people subject to a single lord, and so on. Again, some of these correspond to concrete social groups with other, nonreligious purposes, some do not; some are almost inevitably found, some but rarely; some are obligatory for all men, some are voluntary. Thus, by plotting temple types in a locality, one plots the general shape of the local social structure but not its specific outlines. The temple system of the Balinese countryside forms a relatively fixed stone and wood mold in terms of which rural social organization expresses itself, and the semi-annual festivals in each temple dramatize the sorts of ties out of which Balinese peasants build their collective life. But it does not stamp that life into any simple or unvarying form, for within the general mold the possibilities for variations in stress, combination, and adjustment of social elements seem almost limitless.

2. Common Residence.

As most Indonesians, Balinese live in a clustered settlement pattern, their walled-in house-compounds jammed against each other in an almost urban fashion so as to conserve rice-land in the face of tremendously dense and growing population.5 Within such clusters the basic territorial political unit is the hamlet, or band jar. Bandjar, which mayor may not be spatially isolated, depending upon the size of the settlement, contain anywhere from a dozen to several hundred nuclear families, averaging perhaps about eighty or ninety. In most parts of Bali, the bandjar may be rather simply defined as all those people subject to the decisions taken in one hamlet meeting house, or bale band jar. Bandjar meetings of all male household heads are usually held in this bale once in a 35-day Balinese month, at which time all important policy decisions for the hamlet as a corporate unit are made, mainly by means of a “sense of the meeting” universal agreement process. As the temple is the focus of the religious community, so the meeting house–a wall-less, peaked-roof, Polynesian-looking structure usually located in the center of the hamlet–is the focus of the political community.6

To the bandjar are allocated the sort of general governmental and legal functions common to peasant communities in most parts of the world. It is responsible for local security, for the legitimation of marriage and divorce and the settlement of inheritance disputes, and for the maintenance of public works such as rural roads, the meeting house, and the local market sheds and cockpit. Commonly it will own a gamelan orchestra and perhaps dancing costumes and masks as well. As in many, but not all parts of Bali, house-land is corporately owned by the bandjar as a whole, the hamlet also may regulate the distribution of dwelling places, and so control immigration. For serious crimes it may even expel members, confiscating their house-land and denying them all local political rights–for the Balinese the severest of social sanctions.

The hamlet also has significant tax powers. It may fine people for infractions of local custom, can demand contributions for public entertainments, repairs to civic structures, or social welfare activities more or less at will, and can exercise the right to harvest all rice land owned by bandjar members–the members as a whole acting as the harvesters–for a customary share of the product. Consequently, most bandjar have sizeable treasuries and may even own rice land, purchased out of income, the proceeds of which are also directed to public purposes. Nowadays, a few bandjar even own trucks or buses, others help finance local schools, yet others erect cooperative coffee shops.

Finally, the bandjar also acts as a communal work group for certain ritual purposes, especially for cremations, which, along with temple festivals, are still the most important ceremonies in Bali, although their size and frequency have been reduced somewhat in the years since the war.7 When an individual family decides to cremate, all members of the bandjar are obligated to make customary contributions in kind and to work preparing the offerings, food, and paraphernalia demanded for as long as a month in advance. Similar cooperation, but of lesser degree, is often enjoined for other rites of passage, such as tooth filing, marriage, and death. The bandjar is thus at once a legal, fiscal, and ceremonial unit, providing perhaps the most intensely valued framework for peasant solidarity.

The heads of the hamlet are called klian, literally “elder.” In some bandjar there is but one, most often two or three. Sometimes there are as many as four or five, usually reflecting either a large bandjar or one sharply segmented into strong kin or other subgroups, in which all important cross-cutting minorities must be given a role in bandjar leadership. Nowadays klian are usually elected for five years and then replaced by a new set, often chosen by the outgoing group with the approval of the bandjar meeting, so as to avoid electioneering. Klian are assisted by various lesser officials, whose jobs are usually rotated monthly among the members of the bandjar. Though the klian lead the discussion at the bandjar meeting, hold the public treasury, direct communal work, and commonly are men of some weight in the local community they are not possessed of much formal authority. In line with the general Balinese tendency to disperse power very thinly, to dislike and distrust people who project themselves above the group as a whole, and to be very jealous of the rights of the public as a corporate group, the klian are in a very literal sense more servants of the bandjar than its masters, and most of them are extraordinarily cautious about taking any action not previously approved in the hamlet meeting. Klian, who are unpaid and have no special perquisites, feel that their position mainly earns them the right to work harder for the public and be more abused by it; wearily, they compare their job to that of a man caring for male ducks: like the drake, the bandjar produces lots of squawks but no eggs.

3. Ownership of rice land lying within a single watershed.

Unlike peasant societies in most parts of the world, there is in Bali almost no connection between the ownership and management of cultivable land on the one hand and local political (i.e., hamlet) organization on the other. The irrigation society, or subak, regulates all matters having to do with the cultivation of wet rice and it is a wholly separate organization from the bandjar. “We have two sorts of custom,” say the Balinese, “dry customs for the hamlet, wet ones for the irrigation society.”

Subak are organized according to the water system: all individuals owning land which is irrigated from a single water source–a single dam and canal running from dam to fields–belong to a single subak. Subak whose direct water sources are branches of a common larger dam and canal form larger and less tightly knit units, and finally the entire watershed of one river system forms an overall, but even looser, integrative unit. As Balinese land ownership is quite fragmented, a man’s holding typically consisting of two or three quarter- or half-acre plots scattered about the countryside, often at some distance from his home, the members of one subak almost never hail from a single hamlet, but from ten or fifteen different ones; while from the point of view of the hamlet, members of a single bandjar will commonly own land in a large number of subak. Thus as the spatial distribution of temples sets the boundaries on Balinese religious organization, and the nucleated settlement pattern forms the physical framework for political organization, so the concrete outline of the Balinese irrigation system of simple stone and clay dams, mud-lined canals and tunnels, and bamboo water dividers provides the context within which Baliese agricultural activities are organized.

Though organizational details and terminology differ widely from region to region, there are elected chiefs–usually called klian subak, as opposed to klian band jar–over the subak, while the higher levels of watershed and river system organization are coordinated by appointed officials of the central government as the heirs of the traditional irrigation and tax officials of the old Balinese kingdoms. But, again, it is primarily the subak as a whole which deermines in the light of its inherited traditions, its own policies.

The subak is responsible for the maintenance of its irrigation system, a task involving almost continual labor, for the apportionment of water among members of the subak, and for the scheduling of planting. It levies fines for infractions of rules (stealing water, ignoring planting directives, shirking work, and so on), maintains the subak temples and carries out a whole sequence of ritual activities connected with the agricultural cycle, controls fishing, fodder gathering, duck herding and other secondary activities in the subak, and so on and so forth. In most of the larger subak today the actual irrigation work–the constant repair of dams and canals and the perpetual opening and closing of water gates involved in water distribution–is carried out by only a part of the subak membership, called the “water group,” which then receives a money payment from those not so working, the amount again being determined by the subak as a whole. Complex patterns of share tenancy, involved systems of controlled crop rotation, varying modes of internal subak organization, and the increasing efforts by the government water officials to improve inter-subak coordination complicate the whole picture. But everywhere the status of the subak as an independent, self-regulating, corporate group with its own rules and its own purposes remains as unchallenged today as it was in the times of the Balinese kings.

4. Commonality of ascribed social status.

The Balinese, like the Indians from whom they have borrowed (and reformulated) so much, have commonly been described as having a caste system. They do, in the sense that social status is patrilineally inherited, that marriage is fairly strictly regulated in terms of status, and that, save for a few unusual exceptions, mobility between levels within the prestige system is in theory impossible and in practice difficult. But they do not in the sense of possessing a ranked hierarchy of well-defined corporate groups, each with specific and exclusive occupational, social, and religious functions all supported by elaborate patterns of ceremonial avoidance and commensality and by a complex belief system justifying radical status inequality. Were the term “caste” not so deeply ingrained in the literature on Bali, it might be less confusing to speak of the Balinese as having a “title system,” for it is in terms of a set of explicit titles, passing from father to child and attached to the individual’s name as a term both of address and reference, that prestige is distributed.

Following Indian usage, the Balinese divide themselves into four main groups: Brahmana, Satria, Vesia, and Sudra. Since in such a classification more than 90 per cent of the population falls into the fourth category, a more common division for everyday use is made between Triwangsa (“the three peopIes”), the first three groups taken as a unit, and the Sudra, which in a broad and not altogether consistent way corresponds to the gentry–peasantry distinction common to nonindustrial civilizations generally. Each group is then subdivided further in terms of the title system, the actual basis of the individual’s rank in the society. Given a sample list of titles–Ida Bagus, Tjokorda, Dewa, Ngakan, Bagus, I Gusti, Gusti, Gusi, Djero, Gde–any but the most uninformed Balinese could tell you they were placed in a generally descending order of status, but only a small minority of theorists could tell you that the first was a Brahmana title, the next four Satria, the next three Vesia, and the last two Sudra.8 In making status distinctions a man thinks and talks in terms of titles, not in terms of caste.

In general, a man may marry anyone of the same title or lower, a woman anyone of the same title or higher–thus hypergamy. In pre-Dutch times (i.e., before 1906, for South Bali only came under direct Dutch control at the beginning of this century) miscaste marriages were punished by exile or–particularly in the case of a Triwangsa girl and a Sudra man–death. Even today a girl marrying down is commonly “thrown away” by her family, in the sense that she is no longer recognized as kin and all social intercourse between her and her parents ceases. Under modern conditions such breaches often heal after some years have passed, particularly if the mismatch is not too great; but miscaste marriages are in any case very rare even today.

As the number of Triwangsa is so much less than the number of Sudra, status regulation of marriage means that the patterns of affinal connection tend to work out rather differently for the two groups, in that most Triwangsa marriages are hamlet exogamous, i.e., interlocal, while most Sudra marriages are hamlet endogamous, i.e., intralocal. This contrast lifts the horizontally linked Triwangsa up as a supra-hamlet all-Bali group over the highly localized Sudra; a pattern congruent, of course, with the fact that the Triwangsa almost completely monopolized the interlocal, superordinate political and religious roles of the traditional Balinese state structure, as they do today of the Balinese branch of the Indonesian civil service.

The caste (or title) composition of any given hamlet (or temple group, or irrigation society) varies very widely. In one locality one may find representatives of a wide range of titles in a smooth gradient from the highest to the lowest, in another only very high and very low ones, in a third only middle range or only very high ones, in a fourth nothing but Sudra, and so on. And, as caste is a crucial factor in both political and kinship organization, such differences entail important differences in social structure. Prestige stratification in Bali is a powerful integrative force both on the local and on the islandwide levels.

5. Consanguineal and affinal kinship ties.

Descent and inheritance are patrilineal in Bali, residence is virilocal, but kinship terminology is classic Hawaiian–i.e., wholly bilateral and generational. The major exception to patri-descent and residence is that a man who has no sons may marry a daughter uxorilocally and designate her as his heir; her husband abandons his rights in his own patriline, as a woman does at marriage in the normal case, and moves to his wife’s home to live. As this almost always occurs in cases where male heirs are lacking, Balinese genealogies show a noticeable ambilineal element, in that a certain percentage of the ties are traced through women rather than men.

The basic residential unit is the pekarangan or walled house compound, which in kinship terms may house groups which range from a simple nuclear family up to a three or more generation extended patri-family. Typically two or three nuclear families, often with various unattached or aged patri-relatives, occupy a single pekarangan, but occasionally compounds with as many as ten or fifteen families, related through a common paternal grandfather may be found, particularly among the upper caste groups. In addition to being a residential unit, the compound is a very important religious unit, for each compound group supports a small temple in the northeast corner of the yard dedicated to its direct ancestors at which twice yearly ceremonials must be given. Finally, the compound is usually divided into kitchens, called kuren, typically one nuclear family to a kitchen, but sometimes two or three, and it is this kitchen group which is the basic kin unit from the point of view of all superordinate social institutions: it is the kuren which is taxed for the Kahyangan-Tiga temples, which is allotted a seat in the meeting house, which must send a worker to repair the dam or participate in the harvest, which is the rice-field owning unit, and so on.

Above the compound and the kitchen one commonly finds, within any given hamlet, from one to ten or so (largely but not entirely) endogamous corporate kin groups called dadia.9 Such dadia are basically ritual units, but they may also act as collective work groups for various social and economic tasks, may provide the main framework for informal social intercourse outside the immediate family for its members, may serve as an undivided unit in the local stratification hierarchy, and may form a well-integrated faction within the general hamlet political system. The degree to which it takes on these general social functions differs rather widely from village to village. In some villages dadia organization is the central focus of social life, the axis around which it revolves; in others it is of relatively secondary importance; and in a few villages, especially semi-urbanized ones, dadia may not exist at all.

Rarely is the whole hamlet population organized into dadia, and sometimes only a definite minority will be. This is so because of the manner in which dadia are formed. When a family line begins to grow in size, wealth, and local political power, it begins to feel, as a consequence of what is probably the central Balinese social value, status pride, a necessity for a more intensified public expression of what it takes to be its increased importance within the hamlet. At this point the various households which compose the line will join together under a chief elected from ·among them to build themselves a larger ancestral temple. This temple will usually be built on public, hamlet-owned land, rather than within the confines of one of the houseyards, thus symbolizing the fact that the line has come to be of consequence in the jural-political domain as well as in the domestic. The semi-annual ancestor worship ceremonies the group carries out now become more elaborate, stimulated, as is the building and (as the group continues to grow in power, size, and wealth) periodic renovation of the temple itself, by status rivalry with other local dadia.

Often within the large dadia, subgroups have differentiated and become corporate groups in their own right. These sub-dadia (the Balinese refer to them by a variety of terms) are composed of members of the dadia who know or feel themselves rather more closely related to one another than to the other members of the dadia. Even when there are sub-dadia, not all members of the dadia will necessarily belong to one of them. Sometimes a majority will remain free-floating dadia members and will have no sub-dadia ties at all. In one large dadia, for example, there were five sub-dadia accounting for sixty of the eighty or so kitchens in the dadia, the other twenty having no sub-dadia membership. It is the dadia, not the sub-dadia, which is the fundamental group, though the latter also often takes on important social functions.

As noted, the particular functions allocated to kin groups varies from place to place and the integration of these groups with each other and with the other social institutions becomes complex. Also, the number and relative size of kin groups in a given hamlet makes a notable difference in how both the kin groups themselves and the hamlet function. A hamlet with, say, one large dadia and four small ones, will differ in both organization and operation from one with three medium large ones plus one or two small ones, or with five or six of roughly equal size. Such issues cannot be pursued here, but it should be clear that kinship, rather than shrinking to a concern with primarily “familial” matters as tends to occur in many peasant societies, remains in Bali an important organizing force in the society generally, albeit but one among many such forces.

6. Common membership in one or another voluntary organization.

The Balinese term for any organized group is seka; literally, “to be as one.” Thus the group of hamlet people is called the seka band jar, the irrigation group is called the seka subak, and there are seka dadia, seka pura, and so on. But beyond these formal, more or less obligatory groups, there are thousands of completely voluntary organizations dedicated to one or another specific purpose, which are just called seka. These cross-cut all other structural categories and are based wholly on the specific functional ends to which they are directed.

There are seka for housebuilding, for various kinds of agricultural work, for transporting goods to market, for music, dance, and drama performances, for weaving mats, moulding pottery, or making bricks, for singing and interpreting Balinese poetry, for erecting and maintaining a temple at a given waterfall or a particular sacred grove, for buying and selling food, textiles or cigarettes, and for literally dozens of other tasks. Many bandjars have seka for such highly specific purposes as hunting coconut squirrels or building simple ferris wheels for holiday celebrations. Such voluntary seka may have a half dozen or a hundred members, they may last for several weeks or for years, the sons inheriting the fathers’ memberships. Some of them build up quite sizeable treasuries and profits to divide among the members, some have yearly feasts of celebration, others even lend their earnings at interest.

As seka loyalty is a major value in Balinese culture, these voluntary groups are not just peripheral organizations but a basic part of Balinese social life. Almost every Balinese belongs to three or four private seka of this sort, and the alliances formed in them balance off those formed in the more formally organized sectors of Balinese social structure in the complex cross-cutting social integration characteristic of the island. From one point of view, all of Balinese social organization can be seen as a set of formal and voluntary seka intersecting with one another in diverse ways.

7. Common legal subordination to a single government administrative official.

In addition to hamlet, irrigation society, and Kahyangan- Tiga temple organization, there is another sort of territorial unit at the rural level which stems from the organization of the Indonesian governmental bureaucracy as it reaches down into the Balinese countryside. This is the perbekelan, so called because it is headed by an official called a Perbekel. Before the Revolution the Perbekel was appointed by his Colonial superiors; since it, he is elected by his constituency. He still serves until either he retires or a movement to unseat him develops. He is always a local man, in most cases set apart from his neighbors only in having somewhat more education (although in line with the traditions of Balinese statecraft, higher titled people tend to be preferred for the role). He has under him anywhere from two to a half dozen Pengliman, also local men, also elected, each with his own bailiwick within the perbekelan. Both Perbekel and Pengliman are paid, but not very well, by the Government according to the number of kitchens in their domain. As it is through them that the policy directives, propaganda exhortations, and social welfare activities of the Djakarta political elite filter down to the mass of the peasantry and from them that reports on local conditions start back up, they form a kind of rural civil service, a miniature administrative bureaucracy constructed out of local elements.

As might be expected, the arbitrarily drawn boundaries of perbekelan do not, save in the odd case, coincide with any other unit in Balinese society, past or present; rather, they group from four to ten hamlets into what seemed to logical, efficient Dutch administrators to be logical, efficient administrative units. The result is that the hamlets involved not only may have no traditional ties with one another but may even be traditionally antagonistic, while othtr hamlets of long and continuing association may be separated by perbekelan boundaries. The Perbekel is thus placed in a rather anomalous position for, although his superiors tend to regard him as a “village chief” and expect him to have important traditionally based executive powers, his constituents tend to regard him as a government clerk and consequently not directly concerned with local political processes at all, the direction of which they conceive to lie in the interlocked hands of the temple, hamlet, irrigation society, kin group, and voluntary organization chiefs. The Perbekel is not governing an organic unit, but one which in most cases feels rather little internal solidarity at all and, though he may have some traditional status in the particular hamlet within the perbekelan of which he himself happens to be a member, he is unlikely to have much in the others.

As the Indonesian state increases its activities in an attempt to bring the country into the modern world, the Perbekel both becomes more and more important and feels more and more keenly the uncertain nature of his position. The degree to which he is able to assert his role, to secure his dominance over traditional leadership in matters concerning the national state, and to make a true political unit of the perbekelan varies with several factors: whether or not he is energetic and intelligent, whether or not he is the descendent of a traditionallocal ruling family, whether or not his perbekelan happens to include hamlets having long-term bonds with one another, whether or not there are a number of young, educated men who will support and encourage his “modernization” efforts, and so on. As with the other planes described, the role of the perbekelan unit in rural Balinese social structure is not describable in terms of any static typological construct, but can only be seen as ranging over a certain set of organizational possibilities.

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