Westernization of self-perception in modern affluent Indonesian school children
Subjective Social Status is used as an important predictor for psychological and physiological findings, most commonly measured with the MacArthur Scale (Ladder Test). Previous studies have shown that this test fits better in Western cultures. The idea of a social ladder itself and ranking oneself “higher” or “lower” is a concept that accords to the Western thinking.
We hypothesize that in a culture where only the elites have adapted to a Western lifestyle, the test results reflect a higher level of accuracy for this stratum. We also expect that self-perception differs per sex.
Sample and Methods
We implemented the Ladder Test in a study of Indonesian schoolchildren aged between 5 and 13 years (boys N = 369, girls N= 364) from non-private and private schools in Kupang in 2020.
Our analysis showed that the Ladder Test results were according to the Western expectations only for the private school, as the Ladder Scores significantly decreased with age (LM: p = 0.04). The Ladder Test results are best explained by “Education Father” for the non-private school pupils (p = 0.01) and all boys (p = 0.04), by “School Grades” for the private school cohort (p = 0.06) and by “Household Score” for girls (p =0.09).
This finding indicates that the concept of ranking oneself “high” or “low” on a social ladder is strongly implicated with Western ideas. A ladder implies social movement by “climbing” up or down. According to that, reflection of self-perception is influenced by culture.
Adler, N. E./Epel, E. S./Castellazzo, G./Ickovics, J. R. (2000). Relationship of subjective and objective social status with psychological and physiological functioning: Preliminary data in healthy white women. Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association 19 (6), 586–592. https://doi.org/10.1037//0278-6126.96.36.1996.
Adler, N./Stewart, J. (2007). The MacArthur scale of subjective social status. University of Califonia. Available online at https://macses.ucsf.edu/research/psychosocial/subjective.php.
Allen, A. J./McNeely, J. M./Waldstein, S. R./Evans, M. K./Zonderman, A. B. (2014). Subjective Socioeconomic Status Predicts Framingham Cardiovascular Disease Risk for Whites, not Blacks. Ethnicity and Disease (24), 150–154.
Amir, D./Valeggia, C./Srinivasan, M./Sugiyama, L. S./Dunham, Y. (2019). Measuring subjective social status in children of diverse societies. PloS One 14 (12), e0226550. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226550.
de Almeida Ferreira, W./Giatti, L./Carvalho de Figueiredo, R./Ribeiro de Mello, H./Barreto, S. M. (2018). Validade concorrente e de face da escala de MacArthur para avaliação do status social subjetivo: estudo longitudinal de Saúde do adulto (ELSA-Brasil). Ciencia & Saude Coletiva 23 (4), 1267–1280. https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232018234.16972016.
Equal Measures 2030. Available online at https://www.equalmeasures2030.org/.
Farram, S. (2002). Revolution, religion and magic; the PKI in West Timor, 1924-1966. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia 158 (1), 21–48. https://doi.org/10.1163/22134379-90003785.
Goodman, E./Adler, N. E./Kawachi, I./Frazier, A. L./Huang, B./Colditz, G. A. (2001). Adolescents' perceptions of social status: development and evaluation of a new indicator. Pediatrics 108 (2), E31. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.108.2.e31.
Henrich, J./Heine, S. J./Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3), 61-83; discussion 83-135. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X0999152X.
Hoebel, J./Kuntz, B./Müters, S./Lampert, T. (2013). Subjektiver Sozialstatus und gesundheitsbezogene Lebensqualität bei Erwachsenen in Deutschland. Ergebnisse der Allgemeinen Bevölkerungsumfrage der Sozialwissenschaften (ALLBUS 2010). Das Gesundheitswesen 75 (10), 643–651. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0032-1333211.
Hoebel, J./Müters, S./Kuntz, B./Lange, C./Lampert, T. (2015). Messung des subjektiven sozialen Status in der Gesundheitsforschung mit einer deutschen Version der MacArthur Scale. Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz 58 (7), 749–757. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00103-015-2166-x.
Hutagalung, S. A. (2016). Muslim–Christian relations in Kupang: negotiating space and maintaining peace. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 17 (5), 439–459. https://doi.org/10.1080/14442213.2016.1226943.
Jackman, M. R./Jackman, R. W. (1973). An interpretation of the relation between objective and subjective social status. American Sociological Review 38 (5), 569. https://doi.org/10.2307/2094408.
Kollo, F. L./Sunarso, S. (2018). Patriarchy culture and injustice for women in politics. In: Proceedings of the annual civic education conference (ACEC 2018), Proceedings of the Annual Civic Education Conference (ACEC 2018), Bandung, Indonesia, 27.04.2018 - 28.04.2018. Paris, France, Atlantis Press.
Kumar, R./Dudala, S. R./Rao, A. R. (2012). Kuppuswamy's socio-economic status scale: a revision of economic parameter for 2012. International Journal of Research and Development of Health (1), 2–4.
Lal, D. (2000). Does modernization require Westernization? The Independent Review (1), 5–24.
Massey, A. R./Byrd-Craven, J./Auer, B. J./Swearingen, C. L. (2015). Climbing the social ladder: physiological response to social status in adolescents. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology 1 (1), 72–92. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-014-0009-x.
Nobles, J/Ritterman Weintraub, M./Adler, N. E. (2013). Subjective socioeconomic status and health: relationships reconsidered. Social Science & Medicine 82, 58–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.01.021.
Ostrove, J. M./Adler, N. E./Kuppermann, M./Washington, A. E. (2000). Objective and subjective assessments of socioeconomic status and their relationship to self-rated health in an ethnically diverse sample of pregnant women. Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association 19 (6), 613–618. https://doi.org/10.1037//0278-6188.8.131.523.
Powdthavee, N. (2007). Feeling richer or poorer than others: a cross-section and panel analysis of subjective economic status in Indonesia. Asian Economic Journal 21 (2), 169–194. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8381.2007.00253.x.
Saraswati, J. (2003). Entwicklungspfade einer Übergangsgesellschaft am Beispiel der Entwicklung Indonesiens. Dissertation. Regensburg, Universität.
Sathiparsad, R./Taylor, M./Dlamini, S. (2008). Patriarchy and family life: alternative views of male youth in rural South Africa. Agenda 22 (76), 4–16.
Smaldino, P. E. (2019). Social identity and cooperation in cultural evolution. Behavioural processes 161, 108–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2017.11.015.
Tajfel, H., Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of inter-group behavior. In: S. Worchel/L. W. Austin (Eds.). Psychology of intergroup relations. Chicago, Ill., Nelson-Hall, 7–24.
Tanu, D. (2014). Becoming ‘international’: the cultural reproduction of the local elite at an international school in Indonesia. South East Asia Research 22 (4), 579–596. https://doi.org/10.5367/sear.2014.0237.
Wulan, R. R./Bajari, A. (2021). Post colonial studies in Indonesia: women identity in colonial mechanism. n.d.
Copyright (c) 2021 Sonja Boeker
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The journal is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Authors are at liberty to share their contributions, provided they give proper attribution to the original publication, without asking prior permission from the editors.
More information about this license is available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/