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Race-based affirmative action in Malaysia: misrecognised subjectivities, enduring inequalities

Choong, C. (2022) Race-based affirmative action in Malaysia: misrecognised subjectivities, enduring inequalities. Asian Journal of Social Science, 50 (2). 79 - 86. ISSN 1568-4849

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.ajss.2021.12.001


Malaysia's race-based affirmative action is often studied within the objective domain of resource deficit and distribution. In this paper, I focus on the subjective domain to interrogate how the racial identity modes of Bumiputera Malay youths shape their social attitudes towards affirmative action in Malaysia. Drawing on in-depth interviews, I posit three racial identity modes that correspond to three social attitudes towards affirmative action. The findings point to the disjuncture between Malay subjectivities and their colonial construction; the contestations over affirmative action that go beyond redistribution to recognition; and the neglect of intersectionality in conceptualising Bumiputera disadvantages. I argue that affirmative action can be better understood by incorporating non-elite perspectives, featuring different sites, scales and actors in the reproduction of subjectivities; the politics of affirmative action has to be reconstituted as struggles for recognition and redistribution; and the intersectional disadvantages of Bumiputeras must be foregrounded in the reclaiming of this policy agenda in Malaysia.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2022 11:45
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 03:45

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