Accounts of religio-cultural identity in Singapore and Malaysia

Lim Beng Soon, Azirah Hashim, Richard Buttny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Singapore and Malaysia shared a similar history until 1965. They continue to share a similar spread of religions, ethnicities and languages. Even though Chinese are much the largest community in Singapore, and Malays the majority group in Malaysia, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism are widely practised in both, while Malay, English, Tamil and several forms of Chinese are widely spoken - and frequently mixed with each other. To identify the range of perceptions of culture and identity in each society, discussion was observed among an ethnically-diverse focus group of Singaporeans and compared with similar discussion among a group of Malaysians. Discursive analysis was used to examine the construction of religious and ethnic identity emerging from the spoken data. The research focus was not only on the content of the discussions itself but also on the speech strategies employed by the participants. Findings suggest the existence of competing perceptions of what a multicultural society is or should be, not only across different ethnic and religious groups but also between the two countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-28
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number229
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Accounts
  • Identity
  • Malaysia
  • Politeness
  • Singapore

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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