Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 September 2010
1. Plural Societies. No one can be so conscious as the present writer of the inadequacy of this attempt to trace the development of social and economic life in Netherlands India, so manifold are its aspects, and so voluminous the material which the zeal and industry of the Dutch have placed at the disposal of the student; but it may be permissible to hope that this study has served at least to throw into relief the interest which attaches to Netherlands India as an example of a plural society; a society, that is, comprising two or more elements or social orders which live side by side, yet without mingling, in one political unit. In this matter Netherlands India is typical of tropical dependencies where the rulers and the ruled are of different races; but one finds a plural society also in independent states, such as Siam, where Natives, Chinese and Europeans have distinct economic functions, and live apart as separate social orders. Nor is the plural society confined to the tropics; it may be found also in temperate regions where, as in South Africa and the United States, there are both white and coloured populations. Again, one finds a plural society in the French provinces of Canada, where two peoples are separated by race, language and religion, and an English lad, brought up in an English school, has no contact with French life; and in countries such as Ireland where, with little or no difference of race or language, the people are sharply divided in their religious allegiance.