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BEING NON-BUMIPUTERA: ETHNIC CHINESE YOUTHS' MODES OF RESISTANCE AND IDENTITY FORMATION: An Ethnographic Study of the Impact of the National Language Act and Quota System Policy at a Malaysian National Secondary School

Kee, Geok Hwa (2004) BEING NON-BUMIPUTERA: ETHNIC CHINESE YOUTHS' MODES OF RESISTANCE AND IDENTITY FORMATION: An Ethnographic Study of the Impact of the National Language Act and Quota System Policy at a Malaysian National Secondary School. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This ethnographic study, set against the backdrop of the National Effective School Reform of 1998 and situated within the context of the National Language Act of 1967 and the Quota System Policy of 1970, focuses on the relationship between ethnic Chinese youths' resistance modes and identity formation. The language act and quota system, designed to facilitate national unity and reduce social inequity, actually sharpen racial differences and create internal hegemony. Extensive fieldwork consisting of observations, interviews, and surveys provide empirical data for three central research questions examined. I trace the origins and trends of the language act and quota system to contextualize the empirical evidence and review three sets of empirical scholarships (critical theories, postcolonial studies, and sociolinguistics) to conceptualize research findings. Facing Malay-centric, teaching practices and disciplinary approaches for the first time, ethnic Chinese students in national high schools exhibit two distinct resistance modes. High achievers downplay ethnic ancestry, accumulate language capital through tutoring, and obey school rules. Low achievers highlight ethnic ancestry, accumulate vocational capital through apprenticeship, and defy school rules. Substantial support and higher expectation from parents contribute to the academic success of male high achievers. Inadequate support and low expectation from parents result in the academic failure of female low achievers. Furthermore, parental belief in the rewards of school success, but distrust toward school personnel contributes to the compliance of high achievers. Parental trust toward school personnel, but disbelief in school rewards leads to the defiance of low achievers. This ethnographic study provides policymakers and educators with first-hand information to evaluate the national effective school reform. More specifically, it generates intimate insights into the types of academic challenges and behavioral problems facing students. In addition, this study adds to the youth resistance literature in two ways. First, through its basis in grounded theory methodology, this study develops an empirically relevant and practically applicable conceptual framework to improve educational quality and to facilitate social equity. Second, by weaving together personal narratives and systemic analysis, this study demonstrates a joint analysis from both the micro and macro perspectives through the effective use of social dramas, portraitures, and vignettes to represent data.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kee, Geok
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPorter, Maureenmporter@pitt.eduMPORTER
Committee MemberMcAllister, Carolallister@pitt.eduALLISTER
Committee MemberAdams,
Committee MemberBickel, Williambickel@pitt.eduBICKEL
Date: 16 December 2004
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 11 November 2004
Approval Date: 16 December 2004
Submission Date: 6 December 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: creative narratives; critical school ethnography; ethnic identity; gender identity; language policy implementation; national identity; school improvement
Other ID:, etd-12062004-182908
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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