Media consumption in contemporary urban Indonesia and everyday life : Muslim women, parenting and media : research portfolio of Hanny Savitri Hartono collated for examination for PhD (posthumously) by supervisors

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Massey University
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Since the fall of the New Order regime in 1998, the Indonesian media landscape has been radically transformed. The country is now a densely saturated media space in which people are exposed to numerous media from television programming to social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Although Indonesia is the country with the highest Muslim populace in the world, its media do not necessarily reflect the growing resurgence of Islamism in the region. With heavy media exposure, which is mainly secular, Muslim women, consciously or not, seek to negotiate the media they are exposed to in the context of their everyday lives within the frame of their Islamic understanding. As media become increasingly contested, their engagement with media becomes more critical. This thesis explores the centrality of Muslim parenting and media in the everyday lives of Muslim mothers in Semarang and Jakarta and seeks to unravel the meanings of media and their strategies for dealing with these media. The focus is on Muslim women and mothers and their negotiations with media around them and how their parenting and Muslim-ness are not merely influenced by the media they use but also impact the media they embrace. In the process, they too are struggling to mediate the media around their children. Hence, reflexive media engagement takes centre stage. In this research, I combine ethnographic fieldwork in Semarang, Central Java and online discussions on a closed Facebook group of which participants mostly reside in Jakarta. Through in-depth interviews, diary studies, conversations, online discussions, field notes and other pertinent resources, I delve into the ways in which Muslim women and their children deal with television, especially celebrity gossip shows, and children’s programming, social media particularly Facebook, and billboards. By considering the notions of agency and piety through the lens of Islamic tenets, and the particularities of Muslim women in Semarang and Jakarta, this study takes a close look at the daily dealings with media of urban mothers. The discussion falls into four main topics: an investigation of the experiences of Muslim mothers who are exposed to television gossip shows and how they negotiate these programmes in terms of their understanding of the Islamic prohibition of gossip; an examination on how Muslim women are actively shaping piety through Facebook in the midst of the debate surrounding its use by Muslim clerics; an investigation of how Muslim women who are surrounded by street billboards cope with their possible effects on their children; and an exploration of the way Muslim mothers negotiate their children’s media consumption within the context of their religious and moral appropriateness. At the core, this is a study of Muslim mothers’ engagement with media in their everyday lives as mothers and as women. I argue that active agency and constant negotiations have led many participants to examine their piety as Muslim women and mothers since the space around media, in their consumption and media talk, provides a platform for engaging with public discourses of religion, gender, and motherhood. Media become sites in which Muslim mothers discuss Islam, voice their views and Islamic understandings, embrace their piety, as well as give judgements to others whose opinions or experiences are not similar to theirs. There are indeed multiple ways of understanding Islam in Indonesia, which have coexisted within a secular context for centuries and these women are negotiating their way through Indonesia’s opposing forces of secularism and Islamism.
The attached portfolio includes the chapters of Vitri’s partially-completed PhD thesis, as well as several articles published in refereed journals, and other minor publications and unpublished work.
Mass media and women, Indonesia, Muslim women, Conduct of life, Mothers, Attitudes, Social media