Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Revisiting Community Bidayuh Empowerment Using Abductive Research Strategy

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Revisiting Community Bidayuh Empowerment Using Abductive Research Strategy

Article excerpt


Previous studies shows that the failure of community development in Malaysia always related with two aspects such as the emphasis on top-down approach which is the centralization of power without the active participation of community members and also a limited understanding of the needs and aspirations of the local people. Therefore the main objective of this study is to understand the meaning of empowerment from the world-view of Bidayuh community itself. This study using abductive research strategy and a phenomenology research paradigm which is based on idealist ontology and constructionist epistemology. This paradigm focuses on the lived experience of the Bidayuh Bukar community which are shaped by their own value and daily life experience. Data was gathered through in-depth interviews conducted with 50 informants. The Bidayuh understanding of empowerment was analysed from themes derived from the knowledge, experience, interpretation, action and the reaction of the Bidayuh Bukar community world view. The findings show that the Bidayuh understanding of empowerment is a process in which power is developed, promoted, obtained, shared, simplified or adapted by individual or groups in social interaction that would allow them the ability to use internal capability themselves to do something, to take effect and make a difference in the community as a product that has been strengthened. In short, it refers to a process in which a person or a group are at a point where they are able to use the skills, ability and capacity themselves in understanding, interpreting problems and then define the requirements and translate these requirements to the process definition action through participation in the organization itself.

Keywords: community development, poverty, empowerment, Bidayuh community

1. Introduction

Studies carried out by Shamsul (1977), Herbert-Cheshire (2000), Lavers (2008), and Lyndon et al. (2012) shows that community development is a planned intervention that gives communities opportunities for much control over the conditions that affect their lives. Nevertheless, this does not adequately provide solutions to the the problems faced by the local community (Lavers, 2008; Lyndon et al., 2012). Past studies have unmistakably shown that the inability and ineptness of community development program to improve the economic conditions and quality of life of indigenous communities in Malaysia and Sarawak are often connected with planners refusal to recognize the needs and the aspirations of the community from their emic world view (Asnarulkhadi, 1996; Madeline, 2004; Jones, 2003; Xu & Chow, 2006, Novel et al., 2011). Besides that, the implementation of the development program characteristically highlights two features: firstly, at the macro structural level, the ideas, concepts and the understanding of planners or agencies are often shaped by the scientific etic world view, and secondly, there is a inclination to adopt Rostow's theories of modernization ignoring the importance of the emic world view, social system, and culture of the community itself (Denison, 1996; Chamhuri, 1985; Morris et al, 1999; Sharina & Hood, 2007). This condition has led to inadeaquate and abandonment of understanding and knowledge about the needs and aspiration of the community.

On top of that, the needs and wants are two different concepts with divergent standpoints. The needs refer to the specific categories of the universal etic goals that are relevant and necessary to all people in order to survive. On the other hand, the wants or desire originates from something that is favoured by the individual and cultural context (Lavers, 2008). Both concepts offer different view, in terms of approach, and in terms of understanding of the notion of poverty (Yapa, 1996; McGregor et al, 2009; Chambers, 1994). Planners are more prone to utilize symbolic approach instead of integrative and holistic approach. This is because they have limited time to examine the process and the direction of change which are influential in shaping program outcomes (Songan, 1993; Tosun, 2000; Haris, 2004; Colin, 2004). …

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