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Unseen Powers and Democratic Detectives: Street Vendors in an Indonesian City

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Abstract

This article documents how the democratic detective is related to important changes in the meaning and clustering of both keywords and social types since the democratic transition in Indonesia in 1998. The article describes how during a government-organized street vendor relocation, Arif, a young street vendor, as a democratic detective, positions himself in relation to the rakyat (the people), which is viewed as the most authentic body to bring forth social and political change in Indonesia; and to the oknum, an individual who abuses his position of power for personal benefit. In this paper, I show how the democratic detective is developing new techniques for achieving transparency based on a shared pattern of latent communication in newspapers and is involved in producing a narrative reminiscent of a detective story. [Indonesia, Yogyakarta City, transparency, detectives, street vendors, urban figures].

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