State-Led Modernization and the New Middle Class in Malaysia

By Abdul Rahman Embong | Go to book overview

5
The New Malay Middle-Class Family

This chapter considers several interrelated questions about the impact of modernization, industrialization and urbanization on the new Malay middle-class family. First, what is the pattern of marriage and parenthood among the new Malay middle class? Second, is the Malay middle-class family becoming more egalitarian, with power shared between husbands and wives? Third, is the new Malay middle-class family preoccupied with class reproduction? Fourth, is the fact that the new Malay middle-class family is becoming increasingly nuclear leading to its isolation and the breakdown of extended kin networks? These four questions are discussed in the light of our empirical study conducted among the new Malay middle class in the Klang Valley and in the two provincial towns of Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu. In the course of the discussion, comparisons will be drawn, wherever possible, with other studies of both the new middle class and the working class.


Marriage and parenthood among the new Malay middle class

Marriage patterns

It will be suggested in this section that modernization and new middle-class lifestyles have not led to the widespread rejection of marriage, and that parenthood continues to be highly valued in the private lives of modern middle-class Malays in both the metropolitan city and in the provincial towns. This can be seen, among other things, from an examination of the percentage of married respondents, their age at first marriage and choice of spouse as well as the number of children they have or would like to have.

In the sample, the percentage of respondents who had been married at one time or another was high. Of the 284 respondents in the study, 231 (81.3 per

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