Globalisation, 'in-between' identities and shifting values: young multiethnic Malaysians and media consumption
2011-09-22T09:20:17Z (GMT) by
The aim of this research is to examine the identities of youth from different cultural background in Malaysia that has been formed through consumption of media. The forces of globalisation reportedly have de-centred the self from the core, leading to multiple, fluid and contradictory identities. Individuals have been displaced from their backgrounds, and have emerged as individuals, in contrast to past collective identities. People are self-reflexive in constructing their sense of self, with the media playing a role in nurturing one s quest for self-identity (Thompson, 1995). This issue is of particular relevance to young Malaysians. Within this locality, young people s lives are deeply embedded in the collectivities of ethnicity, religion and national identity. At the same time, Malaysia has adopted an open economic market. The de-regulation of Malaysia s broadcasting services enables a mass penetration of the global media to influence young Malaysians. This study is interested in examining how these conditions have affected young Malaysians identities through media consumption. While other studies have explored identity through the consumption of the global media by local audiences, such studies have focused on hybridised cultural practices. This study takes into account de-centred identities by examining shifts in values among different ethnicities, as reflected in consumption of global and local television programmes, differentiating this from previous research works. This study draws on Giddens (1990) concept of reflexivity in examining this issue. This study found that the global media plays a significant role in young Malaysians questioning tradition against modernity. They admire life outside Malaysia, and view it as more modern and liberating, compared to the perceived closed life of Malaysian culture. Yet, this does not conclusively show that young Malaysians have completely abandoned local cultures and values. Rather, it shows they can fully adopt values they admire into their lives while continuing to live within the bounds of their parents and community. Young Malaysians have appropriated the various forms of global cultures derived from media consumption as a means of forging their sense of self, which articulates a need to project an individual self rather than emerging from their collectivity. Although religion and ethnicity remain important in their lives, these young people do not see themselves solely restricted by these identity markers alone. Their cultural identity contains characteristics of other global cultures as well. It is an intersection of various forms of identities, negotiated between religion and ethnicity within global youth cultures, diaspora, gender, lifestyles and taste. Young Malaysians can best be described as having in-between identities - global - local subjects borne out of the hybridisation of values from both sources. Ethnic minority Malaysians display two identities, due to their consumption of international programmes. First, overseas Chinese and Tamil television programmes enable youth to hybridise their youth identity into Western-Asian popular youth cultures instead of drawing solely from one or the other. Second, this type of exposure leads young Malaysian-Chinese to have feelings of cultural superiority over the local Malay films and drama.