Cultural Behaviours Of Non Muslim Malaysian Teenagers Sociology Essay Example
Cultural Behaviours Of Non Muslim Malaysian Teenagers Sociology Essay Example

Cultural Behaviours Of Non Muslim Malaysian Teenagers Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 11 (2982 words)
  • Published: July 28, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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The topic I am currently studying is youth, which has been extensively explored in literature. Defining what a youth is, according to the United Nations (UN), an adolescent is "a stage in life where an individual undergoes sexual maturity and transitions from childhood to adulthood" (quoted in Rahmah and Shahraniza, pp25). Adolescence is considered crucial as it is the period when decisions are made and identities are formed (Erikson, 1968 quoted in Epstein, 1998 pp4). This relevance determines specific behaviors that non-Muslim adolescents within Malaysia may experience, regardless of their respect for Muslim cultures.

The role of infinite in the formation of young person identities differs among various writers who define young persons in Western civilizations and societies. One perspective I have examined portrays youth as carefree individuals who seek enjoyment and may exhibit rebellious behavior at times


(Valentine et al, 1998). They are often perceived as followers of consumerism and share common interests like music, drugs, and traveling (Valentine et al, 1998). Additionally, they are characterized as troublemakers.

In 1983, Pearson suggests that "youths" are rowdy and undisciplined, a belief that has been prevalent in youth cultures for 150 years. However, a contrasting view sees youth as respectful towards adults and still maintaining some innocence (Valentine et al, 1998). Cultures vary across different countries, families, social classes, religions, and more. According to Epstein (1998), cultures are the distinct patterns of life, choice, and preference of social groups (Clarke et al, 1975). Epstein (1998) further argues that there are two distinct groups of cultures, one being hegemonic and the other being common.

In the context of Malaysia, hegemonic civilizations refer to the dominant societal groups, suc

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as the Muslim civilization, which holds more power compared to other groups. These hegemonic civilizations are often referred to as the most powerful in society. According to Willis (1990), common civilizations are the everyday expressions of other societal groups and categories. For instance, this includes the cultures practiced at home rather than those taught at Christian schools (Epstein, 1998 pp9). The concept of youth is explored in literature as a social construct encompassing age-related and emotional changes. It is noted that many young people nowadays seem uncertain about their place in society, and adult surveillance plays a significant role in their behavior and use of space (Austin and Willard, 1998). If we combine youth with age, it can be observed that many places these days are monitored by adults, such as bars and adult sports clubs (Austin and Willard, 1998).

Many young individuals under the age of 18, due to their low social status, are deprived of the rights to a private space and are subjected to constant surveillance by adults (Austin and Willard, 1998). Geographical literature supports this notion by depicting public spaces as exclusive to adults and young people as constantly monitored within the adult world (Valentine et al, 1998). Studies have examined how teenagers manage to escape adult surveillance and make public spaces their own. Public spaces such as parks, shopping centers, and streets can be used by young individuals as a means of self-discovery and identity formation during the transition from adolescence to adulthood (Erikson, 1968 quoted in Epstein, 1998 pp4).

The act of young people spending time in public spaces is often viewed as a means of defying adults, potentially leading to

trouble. According to Baumgartner (1988), literature has frequently depicted teenagers as disruptive, which aligns with how many adults perceive them in public areas. In our current society, numerous safety measures such as cameras, security guards, and surveillance systems are implemented in public spaces for control purposes. One would assume that children have their own private space at home where they can escape from adult supervision. However, this designated area is typically monitored by adults (Sibley, 1995). The presence of young individuals alone in public spaces can pose a threat to others, particularly the elderly (White, 1993).

The presence of teenagers as a nuisance is more noticeable in central business districts (CBD) that have transformed most public spaces into areas designated for private business purposes. Teenagers residing within these areas face difficulties integrating freely in public spaces, such as hanging around outside newsstands. Furthermore, business owners perceive teenagers as a threat to their businesses, causing older individuals to also avoid these areas out of fear of encountering adolescents. CBD areas primarily cater to commercial activities, and as a result, people, especially the youth who utilize these spaces for non-commercial reasons, are considered bothersome by both business owners and law enforcement agencies (White 1993). Literature on youth and youth cultures primarily focuses on youth gangs rather than individual adolescents and their emotions regarding their exclusion from public spaces.

(Patrick.1973). Besides, many writers have focused more on males than females (Skelton and Valentine, 1998).

Diaspora Individualities

The way people dress and behave in order to express their identities is explored by Claire Dwyer (1999). In her research, she focuses specifically on British Muslims. She examines the way Muslim girls in Britain dress

both inside and outside the home, particularly at school, and how this affects their interaction with others. She finds that they often wear Western clothing to fit in, not necessarily because they prefer it, but because they fear racism if they don't (Dwyer, 1999).

She discovered that wearing western apparels at school does not make the Asian girls the same as the English girls, it only hides their true identity in public. However, the older generation in the Asian community judges how someone dresses outside of the home differently. For example, dressing in western clothing at school is considered a "noisy self-expression" as it means the traditional Asian girl has rebelled against more reserved behavior by not wearing a headscarf. One of the interviewed girls mentioned that others would often gossip about people's children or families, saying things like "I saw so and so's daughter and she's started going out with boys...just because you're wearing English clothing." The older generation in the Asian community also stereotypes a person's behavior based on their clothes, makeup, or if they wear a headscarf or not. But the girls strongly disagree with this stereotype, explaining that a Muslim may wear a headscarf to show religious devotion, but it could also be a way to conceal their disputed identities and hide their true behaviors.

Unlike most teenagers, Muslim women use their clothing choices as a means to express their own identities and independence, rather than relying on external factors such as the places they frequent or their behavior. In traditional Asian culture, it is believed that Western clothes symbolize sexual modesty. Western attire tends to be form-fitting, emphasizing the individual's figure, while

traditional clothing is loose and covers the arms, ankles, and even the hair (Dwyer, 1999). A person's behavior can be greatly influenced by their religious beliefs (Inglehart, 2004). Those who practice a religion are typically taught to adhere to specific customs and behaviors (Inglehart, 2004).

According to Inglehart (2004), individuals who are not religious generally lack morals and values to follow, resulting in their behavioral issues. Inglehart (2004) asserts that people from the poorest countries heavily rely on religion since they have very little else to depend on in life. Interestingly, the most religious countries are all associated with the Islamic faith, including Egypt, Indonesia, and Jordan (Inglehart, 2004). In addition, Inglehart (2004) states that women are more religious than men worldwide. Muslim parents often teach their children about proper behavior, emphasizing manners, respectfulness, responsibility, obedience, religiosity, and hard work (Inglehart, 2004).

According to a study conducted in Johore Bahauru Malaysia, there is ongoing debate about what constitutes 'immoral behavior' among adolescents. The study examined gangsterism, illegal racing, drug abuse, smoking, stealing, fighting, and truancy (Rahmah and Shahraniza, 2008). Findings from this subjective study indicated that boys were more prone to risk-taking than girls (Rahmah and Shahraniza, 2008). It was generally observed that individuals who received an education, regularly attended school, and respected their teachers were less likely to engage in risky or immoral behavior (Rahmah and Shahraniza, 2008). An interesting discovery made during the study focused on family structures. Children from well-structured families exhibited better behavior compared to those from less structured families. This contradicts Inglehart's (2004) belief that religion is the main determinant of one's behaviors; instead, it seems influenced by various societal aspects (Rahmah

and Shahraniza).

Exploring Adolescents' Utilization of Public Space

Literature extensively delves into how young people perceive and value their utilization of space.

The writer Lynch ( 1977 ) conducted research on the small groups of adolescents in cities both in Melbourne and Mexico City. The main objective of the study was to examine how young people used and valued their environment, specifically how physical space shapes a person's identity from adolescence to adulthood. In a separate study, Hart ( 1979 ) focused on Children's Experience of Place, aiming to gain insight into how children perceive and interact with the landscape. His research took place in a town located in New England, US.

Colin Ward (1977) found that research in the UK indicates every child possesses a strong curiosity and imagination to understand their surrounding environment. Ward specifically examined children's experiences within urban settings, highlighting the significance of education and play. He asserted that involving children in the public participation process for urban planning is crucial, as they possess the capability to uphold and exercise their rights. Since the 1990s, scholars have begun questioning governmental policies and tactics that exclude young individuals from public spaces by criminalizing activities such as hooliganism and enforcing curfews on their movements (Travlou, 2003). It is evident that our emotions play a vital role in establishing connections.

According to Bondi et al (2005:1), emotions play a crucial role in shaping our perception of the past, present, and future. Our emotional state greatly impacts how we interpret the world around us. As we progress through various stages of life, from childhood to old age (Davidson et al, 2005), our perspective on things undergoes changes. Emotions are not

solely abstract experiences but are also expressed through our physical bodies and influenced by the environment we inhabit. For instance, our surroundings have an influence on our daily moods.

Ordinarily, when the Sun is shining, it tends to uplift our mood, whereas low clouds in the sky often make people feel down and depressed (Davidson, 2003). In recent studies, researchers have focused on emotions in specific locations rather than solely examining their link to the body. They have discovered that emotions are experienced in spaces and among people, such as in homes, cities, and communities (Valentine, 2001). Emotion is also explored within the home, particularly regarding the feelings of individuals with illnesses, disabilities, and injuries, as well as experiences of humiliation in certain places (Dyke, 1999; Moss, 1999). Twigg (2000) and Milligan (2000, 2003) delve into the emotional impact of caring for the elderly within their homes, examining the emotional relationships, bonds, and burdens between caregivers and the aged. Additionally, studies have examined relationships within households, particularly how mothers care for their children (Davidson and Milligan, 2004).

According to Valentine (2008), emotions are connected to familiarity. Jamieson (1989:1) defines intimacy as a particular form of knowing, loving, and caring for a person. This can apply to a parenting relationship or even just a friendship. Different generations and cultures ascribe different meanings to emotion and familiarity (Valentine, 2008). The focus of literature has mainly centered on young people and how adults perceive them.

There is variation in research on the utilization of public spaces by young people in third-world countries, particularly in Muslim countries. In Malaysia, immoral behavior primarily involves drug abuse, smoking, and gang culture, but fails

to address non-Muslim or Muslim relationships and how they might violate laws through adolescent relationships, which are also considered immoral behavior. There is a lack of research on how Malaysians use public spaces and where they socialize with the opposite sex. Do they frequent private areas away from adult supervision or public spaces like shopping malls? The inadequate research may be attributed to the prohibition on relationships outside of marriage within the Muslim community, leading many young individuals to be hesitant to disclose the truth.

However, what about the non-Muslims living in Malaysia? Where can Sikh, Hindu, and Christian adolescents go with their spouses? How can the public/constabulary distinguish between Muslims and non-Muslims? I am also interested in understanding the feelings of adolescents regarding relationships, as this aspect is often overlooked in qualitative research. Due to the law of 'Khalwat', it may be challenging to gain the trust of individuals, so I am planning to focus on other religious groups.

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  3. T. Skelton and G. Valentine. 1998. Cool Places: Geography of Youth Cultures. Routledge. London.
  4. G. Pearson. 1983. Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears.

London: Mcmillan

  • M, Baumgartner. 1988. The moral order of the suburbs, New York: Vintage imperativeness.
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Thrift (explosive detection systems) Mapping the topic. London. Routledge.

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Dywer. 1998.

Contested individualities: disputing dominant representations of immature British Muslim adult females. In T, Skelton and G, Valentine. 1998. Cool topographic points: Geography of young person civilizations.

Routledge. London.

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Journal of community wellness.14 ( 2 ) .Available at:;q=cache: G9ITmkwLXtQJ: ( 2 ) -rahmah2.pdf+malaysia+immoral+behaviour+in+johor+bahru&;hl=en&;gl=uk&;sig=AHIEtbR3kcko_K2opyjMvBj13AD7SkP5PAsig=AHIEtbR3kcko_K2opyjMvBj13AD7SkP5PA hl=en

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  • R, Inglehart.2004.Cultural differences of sexual relationships in Muslim states.
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