The purpose of this article is to gain insights into the relationship between individual and society in contemporary Thailand and Java by investigating how this relationship is seen by the most creative Thai and Javanese authors of modern Thai and Indonesian serious fiction. These authors have been selected because competent local informants thought them to be the best writers of socially relevant novels and short stories. It is expected that the comparative dimension of this article may be conducive to gain a finer understanding of the relationship between individual and society in two culturally related societies than would be possible to achieve by the study of each of them in isolation. Moreover, such comparison may help to control the observer's bias by raising questions that are not necessarily related to the latter's cultural or academic background.
Niels Mulder is Research Fellow and Visiting Professor, Sociology of Development Research Centre, University of Bielefeld.