Family is considering as one of the important units in the social systems which formed a society. As a sub-system of society, the roles and functions of family are similar with other systems in society such as religion, economic, political, and social and education. All these systems are applied to each societies or countries in order to have a well-being life among people.
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In Malaysia, the established of Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development on 27 March 2004 has shown that Malaysian government has put an attention to the family matters seriously. Malaysia government believes, this country is built based on the harmonious of family institution and the strength of multi-racial society. Thus, if both of these could be achieved, Malaysian society will live in a well-being. Under this ministry, there is one agency called National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) which have been accountable to discuss all the related matters of family in Malaysia (http://www.kpwkm.gov.my).
National Family Plan which proposed under Ninth Malaysia Plan Policy (1991-2010) have been submitted to Cabinet for approval as an action plan to strengthen family institution and to make sure this institution remain strong and prosperous family. One of the aim of National Family Plan is to make a clearly statement to Malaysian society about the importance of formation the family institution.
From my opinion, this aim has to be imply because of the idea of the traditional family has been changed when Malaysia enters the twenty-first century and itself has become a modern country nowadays. The modernization process has affected the family structure, functions, roles, relationships and others among the family members. The trend perspective of Malaysian society now on family has changed due to the lifestyles which focuses on aspects of higher education, pursue a career, freedom, divorce, and delaying married or decided not to marry especially for women.
Therefore, many issues can be arises when women gained tremendous achievement in their life especially in education and labour force. The issues might give an impact on future whether in positive or negative aspects. For instance, higher educational attainment has increased women’s income generating capacity and was linked to reductions in maternal and child mortality. Moreover, educated girls were more likely to delay marriage and childbearing instead in order to improve their financial or education towards higher level. For women who married, their participation in the labour force made themselves burden with work, childcare and household duties. Thus, this trend of lifestyles has caused the emergence of dual-career family in Malaysia. Now, the dual-career family who both spouses are maintaining separate careers and contributing to the financial success of the household has become common place. Thus, dual career families are a reality for society today.
Due to that, my interest is doing a research regarding to women issues in Malaysia focusing on family institution in Malay’s society particularly on dual-career family. I believe that there will have an issue on dual-career family especially towards social function of family in human capital in Malaysia as a developing country when both spouses have education and participate in labour force. In line with vision and mission of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, I assume they do not just want to attain gender equality but also to develop harmonious and to strengthen family institution towards mainstream national development and at the same time increased communal and social harmony. In view of this, I realize that if I do a research in family institution, perhaps it will be a valuable topic in contributing towards understanding about women and family as well.
The Malays in Malaysia
Malaysian population has been divided into Malaysia citizen and Non-Malaysian citizens. They were estimated at 28,457.6 million and contributed to density of Malaysian population in 2009. Of that, 2,069.2 million are Non-Malaysian citizens and 26, 38.4 million are known as Malaysian citizens. Bumiputera  are made up at 17,640.8 people who encompass Malays as predominantly with 14,494.9 million and other bumiputera are 3,145.9 million. Other groups include the Chinese 6, 45.5 million, Indians 1,946.8 million and others 342.3 million. Furthermore, the population estimates by sex also dominated by Bumiputera at 8,902.1 million in 2009. Malays were the highest population in both sexes with 7, 316.0 million for male and female at 7,178.9 million, followed by Chinese at 3,292.5 million for male and 3,165.9 million for female. In contrast, the number of female was higher than male for Indians and others. Meanwhile, the figure for Non-Malaysian citizens was also male outnumbered with 1,145.8 million and for female at 923.4 million (Department of Statistics Malaysia, 2009).
By legal definition, Article 160 Clause 2 provides that Malays means a person professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom and –
was before Independent Day born in the Federation or in Singapore or born of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or in Singapore, or is on that day domiciled in the Federation or in Singapore; or
is the issue of such a person. (Constitution of Malaysia (n.d.).pp: 131)
Based on this article, definition of Malays referred to three fundamental characteristics namely Malay language usage, Islamic religion and customary practice which also known as
adat  (custom). Therefore, Malay is an individual from any Malay race such as Javanese, Minangkabau, Bugis or Atjehnese (Ong, 1990) and all Malays are understood as Muslims. According to Kling (1995), adat (custom) in Malay society have been influenced in cultural elements by a few great civilizations such as from India, China, Arabia and Western. These cultural elements were inedible, therefore, had been adapted and integrated with Malay cultural. However, the integration between local condition and historical interactions of adat (custom) especially with Islam has shaped the way of Malay’s life in all aspects. Although the process of Islamization had occurred among Malay society, the cultural elements were still remained and these were called as adat. This adat has been categorized as non-Islamic because it was not come from Islamic religion.
“Adat was reinterpreted to mean the distinctive and traditional cultural configuration of society as differentiated from purely Islamic elements”( Kling. 1995 : 46).
Therefore, Islamic religion and adat were accepted as basic of beliefs, ideologies and practices in Malay society. Both Islam and adat have become an important principles to organize Malays in undergo all aspects of their daily life as an individual and a society. The reflection of Islamic religion and adat can be seen when it has been practiced by Malays such as in politic, economic and social.
The Concept of Family and Dual-Career Family
The term of family have been proposed in many definitions which are in line with flux and variation on the ideas of what is a family. For instance, groups of people that live together such as adoptive families, cohabiting couples, single-families, step-families, homosexual families, homosexual couples or groups of people who live together in one house without biological kinship connection has been depicted as a family nowadays. Most importantly, the images of families have obviously changed from traditional to modern understanding when many types and structures of the families appeared (Bogenshneider & Corbett, 2004).
The foregoing statement, from my point of view is in line with Jackson (2008). She claims that the variety of definition of family and the changes of family life in early twenty-first century have drew a huge attention among scholars to discuss these topics. Indeed, she also stated that many reasons have been evoked to address the word family and most of the reasons were more likely saying the word family is unstable, diversity and fluidity. All these consequences were pertinent with society who has already accepted the inclined of divorce rates, the decreased of marriage rates, or homosexual relationships as an alternative lifestyles. These were a new form of family which have been agreed in general and in relation with the changes of women and men roles.
The term of family is not easy to be defined because of different definitions exist by societies within countries. Therefore, to understand the definitions of family given by any individual or society, they prevalent posted their definition connected with their own cultural, tradition, religion and social surroundings (Flandrin, 1979; Trost, 1990). For example, sociologist used the cultural atmosphere to define the images of families from their perspective before elucidate them precisely using sociological theories (Gubrium & Holstein, 1990; Cheal, 2002). Therefore, the emergence of these groups made the definition of family and its concept become heated debate and wide discussion among scholars. However, none of the term of family has been agreed as complete agreement, despite, lots of approaches and arguments need to be considered in defining so that the term of family not merely confine for a single explanation (Worsley, 1977; Elliot, 1986; Cheal, 2002). Thus, understanding the definitions of family in its political context is seemingly vital according to the ideological concept.
According to U.S Bureau of the Census (2000a), definition of family is referred to a group of people that consist more than two persons who lived together in a house and be bounded one another by blood, marriage or adoption. Elliot (1986) notes that family has formed based on a marriage between man and woman and they have consolidated with their children as unity in a house. They are being responsible to each other in giving love, support and care likewise has a sameness identity. A family also can be defined as people who remain living together in a group. They have close relationships and will form generations based on kinship (Cheal, 1988).
Another definition of family ascribe that family can be formed when the household constitute couples who are live together without married and those who are single-parents and having children (Gullota et al. 1986). Furthermore, Coleman & Cressy (1999) defined family as “a group of people by marriage, ancestry or adoption who live together in a common household”.
Defining a word of family also referred to structures of families either a nuclear family or an extended family. A definition given by Cheal (2002) describes the nuclear family consists a man and woman who got married legally and live together with their children in a house. He therefore claims that this family structure can be called as “a basic unit of household production, such as food preparation”.
There are also definitions that differentiate the word “the family” and “the household”. From my point of view, these two words have been foreseen had a similar explanation in spite of both of these words have been given different meaning by writers. The connotation of these words always related with a meaning of “a group of people that live together in a same place”. Due to this, Ball (1974) defines the household as groups of people that have been tied to live together in a place and them also known as “a spatial group”. However, families are referred to people who lived together in a place as groups. They are connected to each other by blood and marriage and these groups called “a kin group”.
In Malay language, term family is called “keluarga”. From my point of view, definition of family in Malay language is different from western perspectives. Understanding the word “keluarga” has to be related with the meaning from context of Islam and adat (custom). Therefore, “keluarga’ consists groups of husband and wife, grandfather and grandmother, siblings and their children, auntie and uncle and their children who then knowing as close relatives and distant relatives. They are bond with variety of responsibilities, social functioning, unity of law and others. Those are included in these groups constitute with a division of the inheritance of Muslims called Faraid Law System (Ruzita, 2000). Due to this definition, Mahmud (1997) states that “keluarga” is referring to extended family where this family is a unit social and individual who involved in this unit have a relationship known as kinship.
Elsaie (2004) points out that family is a group of human social and they are ties together as members by blood and marriage. Their relationships are pertinent not merely mutual expectation but also mutual commitments. These include rights, obligation, identity and provision, love, caring, respect the eldest, security and others. All these are proposed by religion, enforced by law and observed by the group members. In addition, many of Quran verses stated that marriage is encounter with moral security, social commitment and religion obligations. For instance, one verse from Quran stated:
“And among his signs is this: He created for you spouses from yourselves that you might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy.” (30-21)
Therefore, in my opinion, there were many definitions and descriptions of the term of family given by scholars. It is noteworthy to make clear that the term of family have been defined differently between the western and the Malays perspective. This is more likely because of the differences in cultural and political context likewise the historical background. For Malays, the family are formed between man and women who legally married and they accepted single-parents family. They rejected the definition of family which is referring to cohabitation families and homosexual families. However, for west people, the definition of family is referring to all types of family either by married couples, cohabitation couples or homosexual couples.
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Despite of the definitions of families are often changed and became a fluidity context in sociology discussions, Silva and Smart (1999) claim that the basic functions of family are inevitably and still remained like in traditional perspectives. For instance, family members were applying the basic functions of family such as becoming supporter to one another physically, emotional and spiritual. Therefore, compared to the past, some of sociologist, policy analyst and service professions staffs were more stress on family functions rather than family structures while discussing about family is what people in family supposedly do as family’s members (Bala, 1994).
In Malay society, there are ties between adat (custom) and Islamic law that in relation to family functions. According to adat (custom), women were given the responsibilities of domestic chores such as child-birth, child-rearing and cooking, or maintaining relationships within kinship and neighbours. Despite these roles of women in Malay society were defined by adat (custom), the definition of the roles were still connected with men under Islamic construction (Laderman, 1983). Therefore, under Islamic law, for men, their identity were referring to their ability such as preparing sons to become independent head of household in future, controlling the sexuality of wives and daughters and providing economic sources for household (Ong, 1990).
Nevertheless, structures of family, functional of family and family relationship in almost each country throughout the world had changed due to modernization since 1960s. Modernization has caused tremendous changes in economic system particularly on the growth of economy which then wittingly and unwittingly has also affecting other systems in society and country. Most importantly and surprisingly, these enormous effects can be seen when the number of women entering paid labour force has increased due to lots of opportunities has been given to women in education. The existence of these situations has changed the male and female relationships and the perceptions of the family. For instance, conjugal roles had changed distinctly; therefore, dual-career families emerged. This has given a new image of family in modern atmosphere nowadays.
Ropoport & Ropoport (1971) were among the first researchers who have interested to study of dual-career family. Their study showed that the respondents of dual-career family have achieved success at various levels as “dual-careerist” in their employment. This research also has opened a new discussion subsequently among researchers who previously more interested to concentrate on doing research about single-earner household.
Dual-career family have been defined by Ropoport & Ropoport (1971) as a family who comprises both husband and wife as heads of household. Both of the spouses will sustain as a family and live together besides pursue their career simultaneously. They also explain that understanding the term of “career” is vital in order to differ between dual-career family with dual-earner family and dual-worker family. Therefore, social sciences has designated precisely the term of career as any jobs which need high commitments or any qualification. A “developmental character” will be undergone continuously in dual-career family to achieve their career attainment. This career enhancement was needed by them either to get the highest hierarchy in job’s promotion or in order to become expert in their field.
Compared to dual-career family, those couples from dual-worker family and dual-earner family especially women will be involved in working environment merely for economic reasons and not for personal achievements or commitments. They involved in lots of works that bringing profit for them. In addition, comparing this situation with dual-career family, women who came from dual-earner family or dual-worker family are still facing with burdens and stress or negative impacts as a mother and a wife (Ibid).
In Malaysia, there is no definition of dual-career family in Malay language. What I had found was all researchers in Malaysia were using the meanings that given by western scholars referring to dual-career family. In some research, I sometimes realize that they also referred dual-career family and dual-earner family or dual-worker family like having a similar meaning (this can be proved in sub topic: previous research of dual career family).
However, due to this, to understanding the concept of family and dual-career family are needed so that I can limit my research subject. My research subject is focusing on Malay dual-career family either they are nuclear family or extended family. They also need to fulfil the meaning of family from Islam and adat (custom) definitions.
Previous Research of Dual-Career Family
The phrase of “sphere of generativity” by Daniel & Weingarten (1984) explained that family and work entail two impacts which considered as “complimentary, contradictory, or a combination of both”. From my point of view, modernization has introduced new images of family whereby related with reasons, effects or ideas about dual-career family which can be found in several of research. As such, dual-career family emerged when women and men entering the paid labour force and this happened within countries and families. Thus, discussion on family and work has been increased especially when women participated in labour division. A number of studies have been done on family and work where the focus of the studies were more on the implications of women participation in the paid labour force and how it linked and affected their roles in families compared to men.
Almost majority of research done on work and family have identified the conflict between the responsibilities of family role and work role (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). For instance, previous studies state that there were probability of conflict between work and leisure (Staines & O’Connor, 1980) and between work and self (Holahan & Gilberst, 1979a, 1979b).
Nock (1987) notes that women’s struggle in the last few decades has influenced the idea of women rejecting being a mother or giving priority to the family. Their focuses have immensely changed towards life attainment such as in education, work and become independent person. Therefore, when women entering labor force, both husbands and wives are going to work and have their own career. Consequently, the numbers of dual-career families have enhanced dramatically when women preparing themselves adequately in order to engage with their careers and, this would allow them to be in the world of labour force (Inglehart, 1979).
Goldscheider & Waite (1991) assert that traditional roles between husbands and wives have changed nowadays. Traditionally, assumption that men as a breadwinner and women as a homemaker are being accepted by all societies. Nonetheless, the assumption has eroded when women also play vital roles in contributing to economy of family. These changes perpetuated division of roles in family system and it has also given an enormous impact on the conjugal roles.
Benokraitis (1996) discovers a few impacts exist in the family of dual-worker couples. For example, this type of family has affected the quality of marriage, responsibilities among family members, and children well-being.
A study done by Cherlin (1992) indicates that living separated with spouse and divorces are more likely to be happened when women involving in the wage labour force particularly if a wife has a higher salary than a husband. Women also found themselves more independent and less relies on husbands in their life.
Not surprisingly, working women often took either unpaid work or work as part-time compared to men if the family have infants because of understanding that women were wives and mothers at home. Due to this, they will still be the person who responsible to their children notwithstanding they are involved in labour force. Men were rarely to do likewise as Lewis (2001) states that this happened “because of career setbacks” or VanEvery (1995) claims because of “a commitment to anti sexist living arrangements”.
It is generally accepted that modernisation had increased cost of living to the households particularly in big cities and towns. Due to this, families must have a great income to fulfil family’s needs. Thus, it seem to be seen that the number of working wives have increased in order to help their husband. Study by (Lewis, 1995b) illustrates that by entering the paid work labour showed that women’s contribution to the household was 55 percent in Filipina. The reason they go for work and earn more money is to make sure that their children will have sufficient life.
Facing a role conflict by women in dual-career families were often occurs especially when they have to make decisions whether to be a wife or a mother or an employee who pursuing her career. With these multi-tasking responsibilities and overloaded roles, women almost had a great stress. In contrast, men in dual-career families were less burden and stress compared to women. With these multi-tasking responsibilities and over loaded roles, women almost had a great stress. In contrast, men in dual-career families were less burden and stress compared to women. Nevertheless, the conflict that they faced is “the lack of nurturing” which means they did not get intimate relationships from their wives (Carter & Carter, 1995).
Study done by Galinsky & etal (1993) show that “83% of working mothers and 72% of working fathers were experiencing conflict between handling their job and family issues”. Another study reported that new division of labour between men and women emerged and had eroded the traditional division when both working spouses manage their work and family. Husbands or fathers were more likely involved in the family while wives or mothers were struggled with their job demands and limited roles (Michelson, 1983; Pleck,, 1979).
Habsah & Roziah (2003) stated that their study on Malay working women in Shah Alam has shown clearly how these Malay women were still trying to fulfil their responsibilities at work place and home. Only few of them said that they can managed both roles simultaneously while others found that they will just can successful either at work place or at home if they gave less attention on one of them. They also faced tremendous challenges for the child-rearing in urban area particularly when both of them are working. Finding of this research also found father or husband were seemed to help their wife such as playing with children, doing groceries shopping, sending and fetching children from school rather than involved in domestic chores like washing or cooking.
According to the research done by Fatimah (1994), it would be true to say that form middle middle-class Malay households view, conducting and managing the household are still under women responsibilities though they are working. Hochschild (1989) points out “men do not share the raising on their children and the caring of the children and the caring of their homes”.
A part of that, commuter marriage also can be said as one of marriage that emerged because of dual-career family. Both spouses have to live separately from each other for long times because of the career commitments at elsewhere. The reasons of these commitments and living apart notwithstanding still referred them as family (Gertsel & Gross, 1984; Newman & Grauerholz, 2002, Lesthaeghe, 1995).
Therefore, from the previous research done by researchers showed that there were problems, reasons and ideas arose when they discussed about dual-career family. Many of these research saying that the emergence of dual-career families have affected the family institution itself in various aspects. Mostly, the researches more focused on how women deal with challenges and difficulties when they have two roles which are under their responsibilities. Due to this, dual-career family is a topic that drew my attention to do a further study on it by looking at Malay dual-career family. With a new model of framework, I believe that this topic will expand and enhance existing literature frame with suggestion in dual-career family.
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