chapter  3
30 Pages

Growth, economic transformation, culture and the middle classes in Malaysia

Beginning in the late 1960s, Malaysia was set on a relatively new developmental trajectory with major social, economic and political implications for an until then largely colonial social formation. Among other things this has meant a significant increase in the relative size of what sociologists are wont to call the middle class. In spite of the well-documented growth of this group, and a good deal of interest on the part of journalists, politicians and business marketers both in Malaysia and overseas, as yet there has been remarkably little interest among social scientists in the phenomenon. With a handful of exceptions, very few Malaysianists - in Malaysia or overseas - have done more than mention the middle class in passing; and there have been even fewer attempts to clarify the use of the concept in Malaysian conditions, or to assess its impact on the taken-for-granted contours of Malaysian society.