by Muhammad Sulton Fatoni (Lecturer on Sociology at )

Villages and pesantrens raised a central figure of ‘kiai’. The figure of ‘kiai’ was then institutionalized into an association, Nahdlatul Ulama. Therefore, Java students (read: NU) were more of a social organization, unity, religious kinship, economy and ideology.They united to gather or bring the communities in society into a single network supporting social values ​​that was not only related to the proper  use of political power but also related to the condition of the behavior in many different areas of life (Geertz in Feillard Andree, 1994: 2). NU is a large rural network composed of farmers, small traders, professionals and religious officials (Feillard, 1994: 2).

The concepts of Kiais about the relations between village and pesantren had been brought to a wider space when they came together nationally in the institution of Nahdlatul Ulama. NU always chooses their location in the village. A villages which became popular at the national level since used as a place for congresses, national conferences and the conference of kiais in Indonesia, was Bagu village, Pringgarata districts, central Lombok. In the village, kiais ever decided that Islam permits or allows a woman to become a president. Another village was kampung Cipasung; in Cipakat, Singaparna districts, Tasikmalaya. In Cipasung, there was an event of NU resistance against Suharto in 1994. Likewise Lirboyo village in Kediri, Kempek in Cirebon and other villages that according to Said Aqil Siroj (2013) used as the basis of Nahdlatul Ulama kiais’ movement.

The word ‘village’ is very popular. In fact, many people claim to be born in the village. However, the study of the ‘village’ has described the pockmarked face of rural communities. The writings about the village could not be separated from land ownership, landlords (absente landlordism), and lacking of land to small farmers, sophisticated schemes to take control of the village land, land conflicts, urbanization, and others. In the Third World, the practice of landlordism and lacking of land are considered as common problems and even prominent impact in rural areas (Hans Dieter Evers and Rüdiger Korff, 2002: 295-296). So, what is village? The village, in the perspective of the State can be described from Law Number 32, 2004 about regional government. According to the State, the village is a law community unit that has boundaries and the authority to regulate and manage the interests of its people, based on the origin and local customs, recognized and respected by the system of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia.

A village is where people live and people are changing at all levels of internal complexity. At the macro level, the international system, the nation and the state change. At the Mezo level, political parties, religious movements and large associations change. While at the micro-level, the changes are in the family, communities, work groups, and friendship (Piotr Sztompka, 2004: 6). Villagers are like the people in other rooms changing toward improvements in various aspects of life. Villagers need a dynamic life that can  be physically measured from the level of development and improvement. The conditions and development of rural communities in Indonesia are almost the same. Indonesian government is too strong so it is difficult to receive the social control from nonbeaurocracy power down to the village level.

In the Old Order era, political force dominated political life so village was barely able to function properly. Then the concept of floating mass at the other pole weakened the social control. A big number of farmers took extra procedural links directly to contact the members of the House which indicated their bargaining position was too weak to conduct social control (Moeljarto, 1995: 82).

Government in the New Order era seemed to be ambivalent whether choosing centralization or decentralization, bureaucratization and de-bureaucratization, the decision taken was an ad-hoc settlement. As a result, the Government’s policies had not been holistic, they were unplanned and inconsistent (Moeljarto, 1995: 78). The condition in the villages located on the western tip of Sumatra Island, was not different with the ones at the tip of Papua. The Small differences certainly exist, especially when there was power of one group of villagers doing a social change. However, in general, the condition was almost the same, for example, in religious character, strong kinship, suspicious of new ideas, and the dependence on farming (Masyhur Amin:1998).

Big opportunities found a momentum when Suharto regime fell in 1998. The era of reformation was born. Villagers began to breath smoothly and freely. At least freedom of expression was there though not touching other basic needs. The era did not give a change in the socio-economy to be equivalent with the city. The villages still grew naturally in accordance to the character of the people and potency. However, it was realized that the era for the rural communities was a start to be better, such as civil liberties, access to rights and free economy enterprises to create prosperity.

The era of reformation gave perspectives to many areas, especially politics. In the era, politicians realized that many ways would pursue people to get freedom even in the most difficult circumstances (John Redwood, 1990: 29). The government and politicians in Senayan began discussing the law of Village as a commitment to pay attention to the village community. After seven years in the discussion of the House, they finally approved the Draft Law No. 6 of 2014 for ratification, on Wednesday, December 18, 2013. The draft law on the village and then was endorsed by the president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on January 15, 2014.

The spirit of the law is protecting and empowering the villages to be powerful, advanced, independent and democratic. The village began to be placed as a base that has to be strong so that it could carry out the governance and development towards a just and prosperous society. Consequently, there is a paradigm shift in looking at the village.

The Meanings of the village as the writer quoted above, according to Robert Lawang (2006) sociologically consists of   the following elements: First is a group of people from one relationship, genealogic or not. People in the village usually speak about local and migrants. Secondly, the social structure of their culture, so it can  be called ‘autonomous’. The third is having areas / communities where they conduct their daily activities and where the socio-cultural structures emerge and evolve. Fourth, having a relationship with outside community: surroundings, sub-district, district, province, state (Republic of Indonesia), and world (global, mondial, and international).