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The influence of socio-political context on racial identity: strategic identity construction among Malaysians and Singaporeans

By Geetha Reddy


In the field of Social Psychology, race has been said to be socially constructed at the level of both individuals and groups. In this social psychological study, I examine how different socio-political contexts influence the construction of racial identities. Specifically, I argue that the concept of the socio-political context needs to be examined from different perspectives. In the three studies described here, I break socio-political context down to government policies, colonial history and politicised geographies using examples from Malaysia, and Singapore. In Study 1, I research how everyday engagements with government policies influence racial identity construction among multiracial Malaysians and Singaporeans. In Study 2, I explore how everyday engagements with colonial symbols influence contemporary racial identity construction among Malaysians and Singaporeans living in Malaysia, Singapore and the UK. In Study 3, I examine how changes in politicised geographies, as demarcated by three different multicultural countries Malaysia, Singapore and the UK, influence racial identity construction among Malaysians and Singaporeans. I posit that racial identities are strategically constructed according to the demands of the specific socio-political context that it is studied in. As a whole, this thesis shows that there are different aspects of racial identity construction at play at any given time and space, and the social psychologist can elucidate specific aspects depending on how they decide to conceptualise the socio-political context. This research has implications for understanding identity constructions in multicultural societies. More broadly the findings have relevance to social psychological understandings of contemporary multicultural societies that have individuals who traverse many spaces of home - both drawn by racial and national boundaries. As societies, and so, identities become increasingly complex in today’s world, I hope that such insights are important for the development of Social Psychology and social research in general

Topics: BF Psychology, HT Communities. Classes. Races
Year: 2017
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Provided by: LSE Theses Online

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