The Identity Threat and Coping among the Followers of the Indigenous Javanese Religion

  • Muhammad Syafiq Department of Psychology Universitas Negeri Surabaya
  • Nadratul Zuniara Putri Department of Psychology Universitas Negeri Surabaya
Keywords: coping strategies; identity threats; indigenous Javanese religion; Muslim people


The present study was aimed at exploring how the adherents of an indigenous Javanese religion, known as Javanism or Kejawen, maintain their identity in the hegemonic Muslim identity. This study employed a qualitative case study. The participants were the leader and key members of a Javanese religious group in Mojokerto District, East Java, Indonesia. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analyzed using thematic analysis. The study found that most participants experience threats to their identity. They are perceived as being targeted and stigmatized since they are practicing mythic rituals and believing in superstition. They reported that they are labeled as obsolete, outdated, and even idolatrous. To cope with the identity threats, participants employ both intrapsychic and interpersonal strategies. The results indicate that the followers of the indigenous Javanese religion can efficaciously maintain their positive identity in response to the negative stigma imposed by the surrounding Muslim people.

Author Biography

Muhammad Syafiq, Department of Psychology Universitas Negeri Surabaya

Senior Lecturer


Beatty, A. (1999). Varieties of Javanese Religion: An Anthropological Account. Cambridge University Press.
Boogert, J. V. D. (2017). The Role of Slametan in the Discourse of Javanese Islam. Indonesia and The Malay World, 45(133), 352-372.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 3, 77-101.
Breakwell, G. M. (1986). Coping with threatened identities. Methuen.
Breakwell, G. M. (2010). Resisting representation and identity process. Papers on Social Representations, 19, 6.1-6.11.
Brown, R. (2020), The social identity approach: Appraising the Tajfellian legacy. British Journal of Social Psychology, 59(1), 5-25.
Butt, S. (2020). Constitutional Recognition of “Beliefs” In Indonesia. Journal of Law and Religion, 35(3), 450-473.
Carroll, L. (2013) Active Coping. In Gellman M. D., & Turner J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer.
Cameron, J. E. (2004). A three-factor model of social identity. Self and Identity, 3(3), 239-262.
Ekopriyono, A. (2012). Jawa Menyiasati Globalisasi (Javanese responds to globalization). Program Pascasarjana Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana Press.
Ellemers, N., & Haslam, S. A. (2012). Social identity theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 379-398). Sage Publications Ltd.
Ellemers, N., Spears, R., & Doosje, B. (2002). Self and Social Identity. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 161-186.
Elliott, R., Fischer, C. T., & Rennie, D. L. (1999). Evolving guidelines for publication of qualitative research studies in psychology and related fields. The British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38(3), 215–229.
Endraswara, S. (2004). Mistik Kejawen (Kejawen Mysticism). Narasi.
Geertz, C. (1960). The Religion of Java. The University of Chicago Press.
Geertz, C. (1973). The Interpretation of Culture. Basic Book.
Harsono, A. (2020, December 24th). Religious minorities in Indonesia face discrimination.
Hilmy, M. (2018). Towards a Religiously Hybrid Identity? The Changing Face of Javanese Islam. Journal of Indonesian Islam, 12(1), 45-68.
Hogg M. A. (2016) Social Identity Theory. In S. McKeown, R. Haji, & N. Ferguson (eds). Understanding Peace and Conflict Through Social Identity Theory. Peace Psychology Book Series. Springer, Cham.
Inglehart, R., & Baker, W. (2000). Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values. American Sociological Review, 65(1), 19-51.
Jonas, E., Schimel, J., Greenberg, J., & Pyszczynski, T. (2002). The Scrooge Effect: Evidence that mortality salience increases prosocial attitudes and behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1342-1353.
Kaul, V. (2012). Globalization and crisis of cultural identity. Journal of Research in International Business and Management, 2(13), 341-349.
Kinnvall, C. (2004). Globalization and religious nationalism: Self, identity, and the search for ontological security. Political Psychology, 25(5), 741-767.
Kortt, M. A., Dollery, B., & Grant, B. (2015). Religion and life satisfaction down under. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 277-293.
Leinbach, T. R., Legge, J. D., Adam, A. W., McDivitt, J. F., Mohamad, G. S., & Wolters, O. W. (2021, April 14). Indonesia. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Little, B. (2018) Passive Coping Strategies. In: Zeigler-Hill V., Shackelford T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.
Lubis, D. (2019). Religious Education for Aliran Kebatinan Community in Contemporary Indonesia. Journal of Social Studies Education Research 10(2): 270-289.
Major, B., & O’Brien, L. T. (2005). The social psychology of stigma. Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 393-421.
Mamahit F. Y. (2021). Abangan Muslims, Javanese Worldview, and Muslim–Christian Relations in Indonesia. Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies, 38(1), 31-45.
Marks, L. D., Dollahite, D. C., & Young, K. P. (2019). Struggles experienced by religious minority families in the United States. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 11(3), 247-256.
Marshall, P. (2018) The Ambiguities of Religious Freedom in Indonesia. The Review of Faith & International Affairs, 16(1), 85-96.
Mulder, J. A. N. (1970). Aliran Kebatinan as an Expression of the Javanese Worldview. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 1(2), 105-114.
Nashir, H. & Jinan, M. (2018). Re-Islamisation: the conversion of subculture from Abangan into Santri in Surakarta. Indonesian Journal of Islam and Muslim Societies, 8(1), 1-28.
Nasir, M. A. (2019). Revisiting the Javanese Muslim Slametan: Islam, Local Tradition, Honor and Symbolic Communication. Al-Jami'ah: Journal of Islamic Studies, 57(2), 329-358. .
Ricklefs, M. C. (2012). Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java: A Political, Social, Cultural and Religious History, c. 1930 to Present. NUS Press. 2012
Ricklefs, M. C. (2008). Religious reform and polarization in Java. ISIM Review, 21.
Ricklefs, M. C. (2006). Mystic Synthesis in Java: A History of Islamization from the Fourteenth to the Early Nineteenth Centuries. EastBridge.
Sairin, S. (2004). The Impact of Globalization on Indonesian Socio-Cultural Life. International Area Review, 7(1), 145-158.
Simon, B. (2004). Identity in Modern Society: A Social Psychological Perspective. Blackwell.
Smith, R. (2020). Mysticism and Syncretism on the Island of Java. Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 3348.
Stange, P. (n.a). Modern Javanism: The Evolution of Sumarah.
Sulistiyono, S., & Syato, I. (2016), Common identity framework of cultural knowledge and practices of Javanese Islam. Indonesian Journal of Islam and Muslim Societies, 6(2), 161-184.
Suseno, F. M. (2001). Etika Jawa: Sebuah analisa falsafi tentang kebijaksanaan hidup Jawa. (Javanese Ethics: A philosophical Analysis of Javanese Wisdom). Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict. In S. Worchel, & W. G. Austin (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations (pp. 33-47). Brooks/Cole.
van Leeuwen, E., & Tauber, S. (2012). Outgroup helping as a tool to communicate in-group warmth. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 772−783.
van Leeuwen, E. and Täuber, S. (2009). The Strategic Side of Out‐Group Helping. In S. Stürmer and M. Snyder (Eds.). The Psychology of Prosocial Behavior: Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, and Helping (pp. 81-99). Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
van Leeuwen, E. (2007). Restoring identity through outgroup helping: Beliefs about international aids in response to the December 2004 Tsunami. European Journal of Social Psychology, 37(4), 661−671.
Vang, Z.M., Hou, F. & Elder, K. (2019). Perceived Religious Discrimination, Religiosity, and Life Satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 20, 1913-1932.
Varagur, K. (2018, April 5th). Indonesians Fight to Keep Mystical Religion of Java Alive. VOA East Asia Pacific.
Yardley, L. (2000). Dilemmas in qualitative health research. Psychology & Health, 15(2), 215-228
Yin, R. K. (2014). Case Study Research Design and Methods (5th ed.). Sage.
Ysseldyk, R., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2010). Religiosity as Identity: Toward an Understanding of Religion from a Social Identity Perspective. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14(1), 60-71.
Koentjaraningrat (1980). Javanese Terms for God and Supernatural Beings and the Idea of Power. In R. Schefold, J. W. Schoorl, & J. Tennekes (Eds.), Man, Meaning and History: Essays in Honour of H.G. Schulte Nordholt (pp. 127-139). Brill.
How to Cite
Syafiq, M., & Putri, N. (2022). The Identity Threat and Coping among the Followers of the Indigenous Javanese Religion. Journal of Health and Behavioral Science, 4(2), 308-331.