Malay Peasant Society and Leadership - Syed Husin Ali

Malay Peasant Society and Leadership - Syed Husin Ali

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Sociological studies of present-day Malay society are rather rare. While studies of economic aspects of that society and of social change generally have been made, little attention has been given to rural leadership. The main objectives of this study are to examine the nature of rural Malay society, to identify the various types of leaders existing in the different communities, to trace their functions in the context of the environment and to assess their effectiveness.

Since independence, the structure of Malay society has been radically changed. Though these changes have affected the cities and towns far more than the rural areas, even here changes in leadership have occurred. It is found that although the elders and religious leaders still retain limited functions, a new type of leadership without traditional roots - that of the landlord, the government and party official - has developed with the penetration of new political and administrative institutions. For the purpose of this study, detailed first-hand research has been carried out in three rural communities, each with differing predominant economic occupation - fishing, rice-growing and rubber tapping - in different parts of West Malaysia. 

This is very much a pioneering work which deserves to be widely read by those concerned with social change as it infringes on peasant life not only in Malaysia but also further afield.


Oxford University Press. 1975. 192 pages. Hardback.