An Ethnocultural Model of the Chinese Family and Kinship

by Hugh M. Lewis    

(copyright 1996, by Hugh M. Lewis)

 

Because the family is the central building block of overseas Chinese society, it is worthwhile to look at its typical structure and dynamics in closer detail. The segmentary lineage structure of the overseas Chinese family is well documented (Crissman, 1967). We can refer to the clan based surname organization of Chinese families which lack great lineage depth and land holdings, as characteristic of the Jetty Chinese, and as remarked upon by Maurice Freedman (1958), as a typical alternate pattern to the more predominant patrilineal society of Chinese.

Yang (1945:134) defines the Chinese clan in traditional southern China as a local grouping of Chinese families sharing a common surname and maintaining close social relations. Members are connected not only by kinship but by mutual obligations and privileges--sets of implicit reciprocal obligations between members and families which are mostly indirect and informal and which can be very powerful. Authority is vested in the clan as a group, and when a clan is strong, the families that compose it are developing and prosperous. The clan provides its people with a central sense of social orientation and represents an intermediate and often alternate social orientation between the family and larger socio-political levels.

The kinship pattern on the Jetty appears to be strongly patrilineal with patrilocal residence (approximately 86%). There are a few exceptions to this rule, in which husbands marry into the families of the wife's father (12%) or young families are establishing semi-autonomous residences in other houses. Generally, the Jetty is characterized by sur-name exogamy, but this pattern also has a few noteworthy exceptions in which individuals with a common surname, clan descent or "hyphenated surname" are marrying within the Jetty (approximately 4-5%).

Analysis of similar segmentary lineage structures in Africa has important implications in terms of political leadership and quick mobilization of manpower for emergencies. We can refer to such structures as corporate in nature in the emphasis of unilineal descent as the basic principle of their social organization. The corporate identity of lineage descent groups is defined in the context of other similar groupings, either in relationship or conflict.

In this interpretation, ancestor worship and veneration of the earth through well-developed systems such as feng shui (Chinese geomancy) constitutes the institutionalized basis of pan-ethnic Chinese religious identity on which a common sense of political community can be based. These ritual institutions do not allow the individual to have friendly and cooperative relations with other individuals outside of corporate groups (Fortes 1951:165). When such lineage structure is well developed within the overall social system, it is likely that the principle of kinship and kinship relations are central to defining and "sanctioning a personal field of social relations for each individual."

The extensive web of kinship, which may cut across lineages, serves as a counterweight to the inherently divisive nature of unilineal descent structures. The levels of local organization, kinship, corporate group structure, government and ritual religious institutions which may be related to different sets of collective interests, may be interconnected in a hierarchical manner." (Fortes 1951:166)

Secret societies can be seen as the alternate adoption of this principle in those social domains where kinship and lineage are not strong or well expressed, as well as the expression of "complementary filiation" that is defined by identity to sibling groups and that serve to reinforce the predominant lineage structure of the society.

The foundation of integration, from this theoretical standpoint, is that all these levels should be expressed simultaneously in every social relationship and activity. There occurs as a consequence of such social integration a complex process of social stratification in which "members of the society are distributed in different, non-identical schemes of allegiance and mutual dependence in relation to administrative, juridical and ritual institutions." (Fortes 1951:166) Individual allegiance within a number of intersecting organizations serves to reinforce the overall structure. Personal identity becomes conceived as "an assemblage of statuses." (Fortes 1951:171)

From this perspective, kinship as a jural concept emerges foremost as the connecting link between external political and internal domestic aspects of the society. In this context the structural role and importance of kinship is expressed in interpersonal relations as interpersonal rights and obligations and as constitutive of the basis of social relations between people.

Descent as the basis of social organization has the possible consequence of disambiguating and regulating rights over the reproductive power of women and also of "precisely and incontrovertibly" fixing one's place in society on the basis of parentage. (Fortes 1951:167) Parentage provides the principle model of jural unity of the descent line and of the sibling group. Kinship relations gain an essential moral quality. "The kinship system achieves this because kinship bonds link together individuals who are cooperating with each other to serve many varied interests, and who rarely co-operate with other unrelated persons." (Worsley 1955:63) Descent groups thus are "an arrangement of person that serves the attainment of legitimate social and personal ends. These include the gaining of a livelihood, the setting up of a family and the preservation of health and well-being." (Fortes, 1953:170)

The moral nature of this kinship model is extended out to embrace and subsume other possible hierarchical relationships in society, to define one's principle sense of obligation in other authority structures. The religion represents a projection of this kinship model upon the Chinese cosmography, and the perennial reenactment of religious-mythical themes on the Chinese stage in front of the temples may represent a continuous playing out of the conflicts, tensions and dilemma latent within the kinship system.

Mandatory surname exogamy is the principle basis of lineage differentiation. It appears that in such exogamous systems, the role of the woman as "wife-mother" in one lineage is fundamentally at odds with her role as "daughter-sister" in another lineage. Avoidance customs become the expression of the common rule that these two sets of inherently conflicting statuses must never be confounded. In this regard, conflicts become expressed principally between wives who share competing interests in a husband's resources, and between sister's-in-law who have competing interests over the father-in-law's resources. Hence, the death of the patriarch often signals the demise of the lineage, the break up of an extended family "under one roof," and where great money may be involved, the beginning of long court battles to decide who are the first, second and "secondary" inheritors of the estate.

Thus, given this review of the study of patrilineal kinship organization and its significance to understanding the central importance of Chinese family, it is worthwhile to examine some of the ways in which this central ethnocultural model of kinship may become expressed in overseas Chinese society. Analysis of kin terms of reference elicited ethnosemantically from the Jetty reveals a normal complex structure of kin terms with no less than thirty separate categories:

father = "papa," "pa," "apa"

mother = "mama," "ma," "amah", "ma ee" "ai ee"

father's father = "ah kong," "lai kong," "lai"

father's mother = "ah ma," "lai ma," "lai"

mother's father = "ah kong," "gua kong"

mother's mother = "ah mah," "gua mah"

father's father's father = "chor," "lai chor," "choo," "chor kong"

father's father's mother = "ah chor,"

mother's younger brother = "ah ku," "ku"

mother's older brother = "tua ku"

mother's younger sister = "ah ee"

mother's older sister = "tua ee"

father's younger brother = "ah chek"

father's older brother = "ah pek"

father's older sister = "a kor," "kor," "koh" (affectionate terms)

father's younger sister = "si kor"

mother's/father's male niblings = by name, "piau lek" (roughly, cousins)

mother's/father's female niblings = by name, "piau chi" (roughly, cousins)

son = "lau seh," "hau san," by name

daughter = "char wah," by name

older sister = "ah chi," "chi chi," "tua chi," "chi," usually by name

younger sister = "sua moey," by name

older brother = "tua koh," "ah koe," "ah hia," "hia," "koe," also by name

younger brother = "sua tee," by name

younger brother's wife = "chim"

mother-in-law = "chim," "ah chim," "ah mak"

father-in-law = "chek," "ah chek," "ah pa"

son-in-law = by name, "ah beng"

older brother-in-law = "ah koe," usually by name

younger brother-in-law = by name

daughter-in-law = by name

older sister-in-law = "ah soo," "ah ee," "can use names but very rare"

younger sister-in-law = by name

wife = by name, "boh a ah," "boh," "char boh lang"

husband = by name, "lau ah," "ang" "ta por lang"

older brother's wife = "um," "ah um"

"in-laws" = "tang mui"

grandaunt = "a po," "chek ma" (uncommon, ambiguous reference)

granduncle = "chek kong" (uncommon, ambiguous reference)

The componential model of terms of reference below may hypothetically exist for the Jetty Chinese. In this model, diagonal lines represent sexual stratification, and horizontal bisecting lines represent age stratification. Dashed lines represent those categories and divisions that are inherently more ambiguous and "weaker." A double line around male-ego's parents represents the double strength of these relationships.

Several important points must be made about this kinship "structure." First, age seniority, sex, and consanguinity/filiality are the most important principles, in that order, such that terms of reference are reserved for older people of a similar category, for males and for those of the line of descent, and the pattern is clearly a patrilineal one that gives way at the third generation--mother's grandparent's and father's mother's parent's.

 

Componential model of Chinese terms of reference

 

Successively higher people (e.g. "father's father's father's parents") can theoretically be taken into account in such a system, but such accounting is rare, and according to one informant, "it is not too good to live too old, great great grandparent's will eat all the descendants."

There is ethnographic evidence of an especially close, and possibly "joking" relationship between mother's sister and male ego (as well as possible avoidance between male ego's brother and wife), which suggests that this relationship may embody in many ways the structural tensions latent in this model. The categories all give way to personal names and "affectionate nicknames" at those points where these principles do not operate, for instance, juniors, females, niblings and in-laws. It is also the case on the Jetty that people "live so close they know each other by name, and 'familiarity breeds contempt,' if one moves out and comes back then call by (term of reference)." It is also important to note that there is considerable variability of this pattern on the Jetty. Probably more "sinocentrically" and familially inbound and tradition-oriented people use more terms of reference than those more available to Western ideas and influences. Thus it is difficult to say exactly how many categories there really are; the structure being shrinkable or expandable at the margins where terms of reference become inherently more ambiguous.1

It might also be the case that affinally defined relationships which are alternate and complementary to the patrilineal relationships are inherently ambiguous and conflict-prone. It also signifies the inherent, structurally subordinate position of the female within the system that in a sense is set up with the central purpose of maintaining the superiority of the male in relation to the structurally subordinate counterpart. It is an asymmetry best expressed in the husband/wife and mother/daughter-in-law and mother/son triangle. It is only to the mother, and by extension, senior aunties, that male ego is subordinate to a female in any way, and then only in the most conditional of ways. It is principally only through the son that the wife, as a mother, can exert any real influence or power.

The extension of this model onto wider spheres of social relationship would mean the imposition of a certain sense of order on the broader relationships of the world, an order that can best be comprehended from within the framework of the model itself. Implicit obligations of rights and responsibilities would be entailments of such extensions. On the Jetty, this extension of the model is had by the use of the blanket reference "Ah" as a prefix to people's first name. This is a term of respect and deference marking social distance, at the same time it is a term of privileged endearment, solidarity and affinity. The second facet is as one old aunty told me, "Chan and Chan is enough already. Everyone on the Jetty is related."

It is in this sense that we can speak of an alternate sinocentric identity among the overseas Chinese that is not individualistic or "ego-centric" in the manner that American identity can be understood. It is "kin-centric" in which a person's persona and personality are inextricably tied by a set of crosscutting and complementary status as "son/brother/cousin/father" or alternately as "daughter/sister/cousin/mother," with all the psycho-dynamic and social differentials and confusions that such multiple roles may involve.

Furthermore, we can refer to the extension of this basic kin-centric identity of the male/female ego as an inherent aspect of the socialization and identity of the individual in the larger world, such that the individual can be expected to carry these identities forth into many different kinds of relationships with people depending upon a complex calculus of rank, seniority, consanguinity, collaterality and gender.

The main conclusion which I draw from this ethnocultural model of kinship is that, given the basicness of sexual stratification and the direct superimposition of age stratification, these two principles cohere with the central structural "function" of the subordination of the female and the super ordination of the male ego. This function has probably served a number of different purposes of socio-political, religious and economic integration. It has served to locate the individual in a precise way in the nexus of a kinship model in whichever widening social relationships have an inherent unpredictability and potential for danger. It has served to put a premium upon the role of the male.2

It is with the purpose of further illustrating and exploring these relationships that several sets of task (thematic apperception tasks, grids, dichotomous inventories and sentence completion frames) given to the Jetty Chinese can be elaborated and understood. In all of these tasks the theme of familial based relationships and identity, and of their symbolic extension onto a largely social arena, emerged as the most common denominator. It is a theme that expresses recurrent indications of basic insecurity vis-α-vis parental love and authority, the vagaries of this authority, and the competitive-cooperative nature of the relationships between compeers.

Grids

The first set of tasks were "grids" that involved subjects rating, on a scale of zero to three, different basic categories of familial members--father (n=10), mother (n=12), son (n=11), and daughter (n=16), but also between grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, husband, wife)--in relation to one another according to certain basic statements:3

X should....

take care of

answer to

obey

serve food to

give money to

pray after

question

punish

scold

be served food by

....Y

The percentage of agreement of each set of relationships between mother, daughter, son and father was calculated and correlation tables were constructed on the basis of these relationships. The discrimination table below presents the percentage of agreement in each of the 12 sets of relationships, in which a score close to one represents very strong agreement (Father = Fa, Mother = Mo., Son = So, Daughter = Da).4

 

So-Fa

So-Mo.

So-Da

Mo-Fa

Mo-Da

Mo-So

Da-Fa

Da-Mo

Da-So

Fa-Da

Fa-Mo

Fa-So

take care of

0.9

1

0.6

0.7

1

0.9

1

0.9

0.1

0.8

0.9

0.9

answer to

0.7

0.8

0.5

0.3

0.8

0.9

0.9

0.9

0.3

0.1

0.4

0.2

obey

0.8

0.8

0.4

0.3

0.8

0.1

0.9

0.9

0.1

0

0.3

0

serve food

1

1

0.6

0.4

0

0.1

1

1

0.3

0.1

0.2

0.1

give money

1

1

0.5

0.8

0.3

0.1

1

1

0.1

0.3

0.6

0.1

pray after

0.6

0.6

0.5

0.8

0.8

0.1

0.4

0.5

0.3

0

0

0

not question

0.6

0.5

0.5

0.4

0

0.2

0.6

0.8

0.3

0.1

0.1

0.2

punish

0.2

0.2

0.5

0.3

0.7

0.1

0

0

0.5

0.8

0.1

0.8

scold

0.2

0.2

0.5

0

0.6

0.1

0

0

0.5

0.7

0.3

0.8

served by

0.5

0.5

0.6

0.3

0.3

0.4

0.1

0.1

0.6

0.3

0

0.3

Percentage of agreement across 12 sets of relationships and 10 dimensions.

 

The correlation matrix of agreements between the 10 relational dimensions presented above across the 12 scoring categories is shown in the table below. 5 Figure 6-4 presents the correlation matrix between the 12 sets of relationships across the 10 relational dimensions.6 There is a .6 positive inter-correlation of these two matrices, suggesting that the dimensions have a functional influence upon the relationships and vice versa.7

 

care

answer

obey

serve

money

pray

question

punish

scold

served

take care

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

answer

0.5

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

obey

0.48

0.75

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

serve food

0.2

0.51

0.75

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

give money

0.39

0.42

0.78

0.89

1

 

 

 

 

 

pray after

0.06

0.4

0.7

0.46

0.53

1

 

 

 

 

not question

0.02

0.41

0.58

0.9

0.76

0.41

1

 

 

 

punish

-0.3

-0.7

-0.5

-0.6

-0.7

-0.2

-0.59

1

 

 

scold

-0.2

-0.6

-0.5

-0.6

-0.7

-0.4

-0.64

0.92

1

 

served by

-0.5

-0.1

-0.3

-0.1

-0.4

0.16

-0.12

0.37

0.32

1

Correlation matrix between the ten relational dimensions across the 12 relationships.

 

 

So-Fa

So-Mo

So-Da

Mo-Fa

Mo-Da

Mo-So

Da-Fa

Da-Mo

Da-So

Fa-Da

Fa-Mo

Fa-S

So-Fa

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So-Mo.

0.99

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So-Da

0.08

0.09

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mo-Fa

0.61

0.58

0.05

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mo-Da

-0.1

0.03

-0.4

0.05

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mo-So

0.22

0.34

0.33

0

0.46

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Da-Fa

0.95

0.95

-0.1

0.5

0.01

0.29

1

 

 

 

 

 

Da-Mo

0.91

0.89

-0.1

0.49

-0.1

0.25

0.97

1

 

 

 

 

Da-So

-0.8

-0.8

0.23

-0.6

-0.1

-0.1

-0.9

-0.9

1

 

 

 

Fa-Da

-0.5

-0.4

0.28

-0.2

0.28

0.19

-0.4

-0.5

0.27

1

 

 

Fa-Mo

0.52

0.59

0.07

0.3

0.35

0.55

0.61

0.5

-0.7

0.4

1

 

Fa-So

-0.5

-0.4

0.32

-0.3

0.33

0.3

-0.4

-0.5

0.32

0.97

0.36

1

Correlation matrix of the 12 relationships across the 10 dimensions.

 

It is evident from these patterns that there are fundamental differences of understanding of relationship between father, son, mother and daughter at least in terms of these dimensions which deal mostly with issues of authority and obligation. This structure of relationships can be used to make inferences about the basic model of the different roles involved in these relationships. In terms of agreement, the responsibilities of the sons to the others show the highest amount of agreement (.60) and then the daughters (.50) the mothers (.42) and then the fathers (.32). 8

The table below represents the cumulative scores of the different dimensions in terms of the basic scoring categories:

CUMULATIVE VALUES

UNCERT.

DISAGREE

AMBIV.

AGREE

INDIFF.

take care of

0.02

0.04

0.1

0.85

0.6

answer to

0.07

0.27

0.24

0.43

-0.25

obey

0.02

0.35

0.27

0.38

-0.5

serve food to

0.01

0.29

0.25

0.46

-0.33

give money to

0.08

0.22

0.25

0.5

-0.17

should not question

0

0.35

0.32

0.34

-0.6

punish

0.04

0.26

0.29

0.4

-0.4

scold

0.01

0.23

0.34

0.41

-0.5

be served food before

0.04

0.22

0.53

0.2

-1.

pray after

0.08

7

0.36

0.3

-0.63

NET

0.31

2.48

2.95

4.28

-3.8

Cumulative scores of the 10 dimensions.

 

From the patterning of these percentage distributions and correlations in the different categories, it is possible to systematically derive a series of 600 rules (10 dimensions X 12 relationships X 5 scoring categories) with variable confidence limits (alternative criteria of percentage scores). By this means a paradigm of these relationships between fathers, mothers, sons and sisters can be constructed. Of this set, certain rules can be selected which serve as key predictive discriminators. In this manner a computer-based system can be used to define the basic familial model in terms of the dimensions of the grid. Below is a simple discrimination table relating to giving money and punishing.

 

DIMEN.

SO-FA

DA-FA

FA-DA

MO-FA

SO-DA

DA-SO

FA-SO

MO-SO

SO-MO

DA-MO

FA-MO

MO-DA

UNCERT.

punish

0

0

0.2

0

0

0

0.2

0

0

0

0

0

UNCERT.

give money

0

0

0.1

0

0

0.1

0.2

0

0

0

0

0

DISAGREE

punish

0.8

1

0

0.5

0.3

0.4

0

0.1

0

0

0

0

DISAGREE

give money

0

0

0.1

0.6

0.1

0.8

0.4

0.6

0

0

0

0

AMBIVAL.

punish

0.2

0

0

0.1

0.2

0.1

0

0

0.9

0.9

0.7

0.3

AMBIVAL.

give money

0

0.1

0.5

0.3

0.5

0.1

0.3

0.2

0

0

0.4

0.7

AGREE

punish

0

0

0.8

0.4

0.5

0.5

0.8

0.9

0

0

0.2

0.7

AGREE

give money

1

0.9

0.3

0.1

0.5

0.1

0.1

0.3

1

1

0.6

0.3

INDIFF.

punish

-1

-1

1

0

0

0

1

0.8

-2

-2

-1

0

INDIFF.

give money

1

0.8

-1

-1

-1

-1

-1

-1

1

1

0

-1

Discrimination table across the five categories for two dimensions.

 

In the table above certain rules can be derived given an arbitrary cut off level. If we hypothesize a cut off value of .7, then the following rules can be obtained:

 

Sons should give money to fathers (1) and it is indifferent (1).

Sons should give money to mothers (1) and it is indifferent (1).

Daughters should give money to mothers (1) and it is indifferent (1).

Daughters shouldn't punish fathers (1) and it is not indifferent (-1).

It is ambivalent and not indifferent (-2) that sons should punish mothers (.9).

It is ambivalent and not indifferent (-2) that daughters should punish mothers (.9).

Mothers should punish sons (.9) and it is indifferent (.8).

Daughters should give money to fathers (.9) and it is indifferent (.8).

Fathers should punish daughters (.8) and it is indifferent (1).

Fathers should punish sons (.8) and it is indifferent (1).

Sons shouldn't punish fathers (.8) and it is not indifferent (-1).

Daughters should give money to sons (.8) and it is not indifferent (-1).

Mothers should punish daughters (.7).

It is ambivalent and not indifferent (-1) that mothers should give money to daughters (.7).

It is ambivalent and not indifferent (-1) that fathers should punish mothers (.7).

It is not indifferent that fathers should give money to daughters (-1).

It is not indifferent that mothers should give money to fathers (-1).

It is not indifferent that sons should give money to daughters (-1).

It is not indifferent that fathers should give money to sons (-1).

It is not indifferent that mothers should give money to sons (-1).

It is not indifferent that mothers should give money to daughters (-1).

 

This model, that coheres between mother, father, son and daughter, can be extended to embrace other relationships within the kinship model. In the obligation of children to grandparents (n=9), children should take care of and give money to them (100%), answer to, obey, serve food to and cannot punish or scold and have no rights over grandparents (100%), and have few privileges over them. The greatest indifference is in whom should pray after whom, or be served by whom or question whom, and who should be free from whom. These same relationships and saliencies carry over almost completely to the relationships between children and both categories of parents and godparents, though there is slightly greater indifference about children obeying their godparents than either their parents or grandparents.

 

Dichotomous (True or False) Tasks

A number of dichotomous (true or false) inventories were employed in this study to assess the "reported" response pattern to basic values and beliefs. The questions were made up with the intention of exploring certain domains of values and attitudes relating to sex, gender, authority, relationships between human and animals, acculturation and class, and familial relationships and obligations, money and religion. It was believed that patterns agreement in relation to certain categories of questions would be similar to those patterns of other kinds of categories, such as the relationship between adults and children compared to the relationship between human beings and dogs.9

These emerged as a fairly successful form of task as most subjects did not seem too threatened by it, and many even seemed intrigued in doing them. The inventories were developed one after the other, beginning with a basic 15 item "Dogs-Children-Women" dichotomous inventory (n=121); leading to a 25 item "Sex-Authoritarianism" inventory (n=71); then to a 20 item "Products-Commercials-People" inventory (n=64); to a 22 item grid (n=61) rating basic categories of people along five basic dimensions of cleanliness, generosity, and obedience; to a 15 item set of miscellaneous assorted questions filling in gaps in the other inventories (n=58); and, finally, to a 25 item set of questions relating religion, fortune, and parental authority (n=30) that was administered toward the end of the study.10

In the first task, relationships between attitudes and opinions toward animals, cleanliness, women, and children were explored through a set of fifteen questions (n=124). The following are the rank order percentages of agreement (true answers) to the most agreed upon questions (True > 50%; footnote references after certain items report actual associations with the particular questions):11

 

Older children should take care of their younger brother's and sisters. (97.6%) 12

If adults are talking, children should not interrupt. (97.6%)

Showing too much affection to a child will spoil the child. (94.4%)

A child should not answer back an adult. (88.7%)

If a woman dresses too daringly, she's asking for trouble. (81.5%)

A woman should not go out to drink by herself. (81.5%)

A daughter-in-law should respect a mother-in-law's wishes. (65%)

Dogs are dirty. (57.3%)

A child should be punished for spilling its food. (52.42%)

 

Strong agreement across the sample shows that traditionally a daughter-in-law is in little better position than a child in relation to the mother-in-law, and that the mother-in-law's prerogative will be held to outweigh that of the wife. More loosely, it can be interpreted that the chief responsibility of the daughter-in-law would be to take care of the children of the household. It is interesting that it is among the women themselves that there is the least agreement to this last question (28 out of 51, or 54%).

 

Dogs do not feel pain like people do. (19.35%)

Women should not sit in coffee shops by themselves. (36.29%)

A dog should not come inside. (43.55%) 13

Women should always listen to their men folk. (45.96%) 14

It is best to whip a dog with a cane to make it obey. (48.38%)

Chaining a dog up makes it a good watchdog. (49.2%)

 

These responses can be interpreted as showing greater agreement in regard to children than in regard to either dogs or women. In this task, the men's sample (n=28) had a high average score of 9.6 and the women's sub-sample (n=51) average was 10.843. These were at odds with the child's sub-sample (n=8) which was 8.75, with the non-Jetty sample (n=17), which was 8.35 or the reference group sample (n=20) which was 8.95. It can be said that in relation to these questions about dogs, women and children, women have a slightly more conservative and traditional orientation than the men, and both men and women have a more conservative orientation than the other samples. For the women, there were 18 (35.29%) who had a score of 13 or above and 33 with a score of ten or above (64.7%), compared to five men (17.857%) with a score of 13 or above and 16 with a score of ten or above (57.14%).

This difference between the men and the women may reflect the nature of the experiences and relative level of education between the men and the women. The women on average appear to be more bound to the domestic world of the Jetty than the men.

Another inventory was designed with the aim of eliciting attitudes in relation to women. Items showing the most agreement were the following:

 

A husband should help do housework. (91.5%)

It is O.K. for little boys to play with little girls. (90.14%)

It is O.K. for the daughter of a hawker to marry the son of a banker. (90.14%) 15

It is O.K. for an unmarried man over 40 to live with his parents. (88.73%)

It is O.K. for a child to wipe up an invalid parent's bodily excrement. (88.73%) 16

It is O.K. if a daughter of a doctor marries a construction worker. (85.92%)

It is important for a child to work for and support the parents. (84.5%)

It is right for a woman to leave her husband if he regularly mistreats her. (83.1%)

It is O.K. for a father to clean his infant daughter's bottom. (81.7%)

A child must not be allowed to see its parents naked. (78.87%)

A man can serve his wife a meal at the table. (63.38%)

It is important for a son to continue his parent's religion. (53.52%)

 

Questions that show the least agreement across the total sample include the following (percentages represent frequencies of "true" responses):

 

A son or daughter can scold his or her parents. (9.86%) 17

It is best if a child follows its parent's choices in marriage. (16.9%)

It is all right for a woman to get drunk sometimes. (18.3%)

It is O.K. for an unmarried woman to sleep with a man. (19.72%)

It is all right if a woman touches a man in public. (21.13%) 18

Highly intelligent women are attractive. (26.76%)

It is good for husbands to go out to nightclubs or bars on weekends without their wives. (28.17%)

It is O.K. for a single man and woman to be alone together inside a room. (32.39%)

It is O.K. for a man to wash a woman's clothes. (38%) 19

Women can behave like Tomboys and men can behave like women. (38%)

It is O.K. for a single unmarried woman to pursue a professional career even if it means indefinitely postponing marriage and having a family. (38%) 20

It is O.K. if a man gets drunk occasionally. (49.29%)

 

The scores were adjusted such that a low score is equal to a high rating of ethnocentrism. The average score of the female sample was 7.55, compared to a male average of 8.33. The children's average score was 8.75, the non-Jetty sample's score was 10.56, and the reference group's average score was 8.1. Again, the women show slightly more ethnocentric attitudes than the other samples.

There is a sense of a clear double standard as far as attitudes towards men and women are concerned. For instance, while almost 50% agreed that men can get drunk, only 18% said that a woman can get drunk. While 38% said women should not sit in coffee shops by themselves, 28% said that men can go out to bars on weekends without their wives.21

On the next inventory, subjects were asked to evaluate comparative relationships between men, women, boys, girls, adults, children and dogs on the basis of five dimensions (cleaner than, more affectionate than, more obedient than, more trustworthy than and more generous than). The greatest amount of agreement was:

 

Adults are more generous than children. (81.96%)

Children are cleaner than dogs. (78.68%)

Men are more generous than women. (77%)

Women are cleaner than men. (73.77%),

Adults are cleaner than children. (70.49%)

Dogs are more obedient than children. (68.85%)

Children are more affectionate than dogs. (67.21%)

Boys are more generous than girls. (63.93%)

Adults are more obedient than children. (57.38%)

Children are more trustworthy than dogs. (55.74%)

Adults are more obedient than dogs. (49.18%)

 

The questions show the greatest false (percentages show low scores of true) answers over the entire sample are as follows:

 

Men are more affectionate than women. (6.5%)

Boys are more obedient than girls. (9.84%)

Boys are more affectionate than girls. (9.84%)

Boys are cleaner than girls. (11.48%)

Men are more obedient than women. (19.67%)

Boys are more trustworthy than girls. (27.87%)

Adults are more affectionate than children. (29.5%)

Men are more trustworthy than women. (32.78%)

Children are more trustworthy than adults. (37.7%)

Adults are more trustworthy than dogs. (47.5%)

 

Of all the dichotomous tasks, these questions have the highest average inter-item correlation scores, showing strong inter-item associations. From these responses, the following discrimination table below was derived based on what were inferred to be "strong" relationships versus "weak" relationships from the complementary scores of agreement/disagreement:

Stronger

adults/child.

men/women

boys/girls

dogs/child.

dogs/adults

cleaner

0.71

0.26

0.12

0.78

0

affectionate

0.3

0.07

0.1

0.68

0.4

obedient

0.58

0.2

0.1

0.3

0.5

trustworthy

0.6

0.33

0.28

0.57

0.47

generous

0.83

0.77

0.65

0

0

Weaker

child./adults

women/men

girls/boys

child/dogs

adults/dogs

cleaner

0.29

0.74

0.88

0.22

0

affectionate

0.7

0.93

0.9

0.32

0.6

obedient

0.42

0.8

0.9

0.7

0.5

trustworthy

0.4

0.67

0.72

0.43

0.53

generous

0.17

0.23

0.35

0

0

Percentage scores of complementary strong and weak relationships.

 

There is a -.382 inter-correlation between strong and weak dimensions (cleaner, affectionate, obedient, trustworthy and generous). From this table, a number of rules were inferred that occur with relative plausibility (greater than .7) and from which a rule-based knowledge system modeling these relationships might be developed.

 

Women are more affectionate than men.

Women are more obedient than men.

Women are cleaner than men.

Children are more affectionate than adults.

Girls are cleaner than boys.

Girls are more affectionate than boys.

Girls are more obedient than boys.

Men are more generous than women.

Adults are more generous than children.

Dogs are more obedient than children.

Children are cleaner than dogs.

 

From the foregoing rules it can also be inferred that men and boys are viewed as more positive and in greater association with "stronger" relationships than women or girls, and that maleness is associated with adultness while femaleness takes on similar patterns of being a child. Only with the characteristic of generosity did women and children appear stronger than men or adults. Generosity can be interpreted as a negatively valued trait (i.e., a sign of weakness) among Chinese whose strongest spontaneous typification of themselves is that of "stinginess." In the next inventory, (n=65), the most agreed upon questions were:

 

Smoking is worse for women than for men. (83.1%)

Newer appliances are better than older appliances. (73.85%)

It is better to buy a larger quantity more cheaply on sale. (73.85%)

Newer things are better than older things. (70.76%)

People on commercials are wealthier than average. (67.6%)

Thin women are more attractive. (67.6%)

Things on sale are a better deal than things not on sale. (67.6%)

Newer clothes are better than older clothes. (59.76%)

 

Questions upon which there were the most false answers were:

 

Men who smoke live as long as men who do not smoke. (9.2%)

Wealthy people are more attractive. (26.15%) 22

More expensive things are better than cheaper things. (32.3%)

Smoking is not a dirty habit. (35.38%)

Products advertised on television are better than those not advertised. (35.38%)

Products sold at Komtar (Supermarket/Mall) are better than those sold at the market. (40%)

Men who smoke are more masculine. (44.6%)

Wealthy people are like people who are on commercials. (46.25%)

People on television are better looking than those who are not. (49.23%)

 

The object of this inventory was to elicit attitudes and value judgments that were related to acculturation, smoking, the media, and materialism. The average score for the children (n=6) was 9.17. For the women (n=20) it was 11.7. For the men (n=12), 9.67. For the non-Jetty sample (n=9) it was 7.78. For the reference group (n=18) it was 8.72.

On the following inventory, 15 questions were asked that were meant to plug any holes left over from the previous questionnaires. The greatest agreement were on the following items:

 

Young men and women should not have sexual relations. (70.2%)

Most men prefer to marry attractive women. (68.4%)

Boys and girls should start dating early in life to find the right partner. (64.9%)

It is O.K. if an older woman marries a younger man. (63.15%)

Police protect rich people more than they protect the poor. (61.4%)

People who do not gamble are afraid of losing. (56.14%)

The average tourist is a middle-aged couple. (56.14%)

 

The questions on which the most number of false items were marked included the following:

 

Most police do not take bribes. (14.03%) 23

It is O.K. for a single young man to sleep with a woman. (29.8%)

It is all right for a man to have more than one wife. (29.8%) 24

You are bound to strike it rich if you keep playing numbers. (35%) 25

Most Westerner's are wealthy. (36.84%)

A child should be discouraged from marrying outside one's own race. (40.35%)

Long engagements result in better marriages. (42.1%)

Police will assist you if you report your bag snatched. (49.12%)

 

The average score of true for the children (n=6) is 5.17. For the women (n=15) it was 7.4. For the men (n=9), 7.11. For the non-Jetty sample (n=9), it was 6.89. For the reference group (n=18) it was 7.33.

The final dichotomous inventory was designed to elicit beliefs about the supernatural and about fate. Because it was designed toward the end of the study, it suffered a basic problem of translation. The sample size was relatively small (n=30), so the scores are collapsed into a single group. The most agreed upon questions were:

 

People on earth cannot know their places in heaven. (92.5%)

Money is a cause of evil. (77.7%)

Money is good. (74%)

A person who does bad deeds is bound to suffer misfortune. (70.3%)

If a parent is wrong then heaven will punish the children. (70.3%)

Children are basically good and learn how to be bad. (59.2%)

One's fortune on earth is influenced by one's filial piety. (59.2%)

Success in money is a sign of good fortune. (51.8%)

Children are basically bad and must be taught to be good. (51.8%)

Your ancestor's will reward you if you work hard. (51.8%)

 

Questions upon which there was the least agreement were the following:

 

Success in making money is a sign of one's fate in heaven. (11.1%)

One's place on earth is influenced by one's ancestors in heaven. (14.8%)

One's place in heaven is measured by one's fortune on earth. (14.8%)

The Gods can be influenced by the deeds of people. (14.8%)

A child should obey its parents even if its parents are wrong. (18.5%)

A person's fate in life determines that person's state after death. (18.5%)

Gods are willful and unpredictable. (18.5%)

Our parent's are influenced by our ancestor's fate in heaven. (22.2%)

Success in business is influenced by the worship of one's ancestors. (25%)

Our thoughts and actions can be influenced by the will of Gods. (25%)

Success in life depends upon the goodwill of the Gods. (25%)

A man's good fortune depends upon the happiness of his ancestors. (25%)

Evil spirits cause human misfortune. (30%)

Fate is controlled by the Gods. (30%)

Good people are favored by the Gods more than bad people. (33.3%)

Success is a sign of respect for one's ancestors. (33.3%)

Happiness is measured by how much money one makes. (37%)

A person will suffer misfortune if spirits aren't placated. (37%)

One's ancestors in heaven are influenced by one's fortune on earth. (37%)

People are controlled by fate. (37%)

 

Agreement to the tasks as indicated by the number of true scores is 45.33%. This may signify that the task was not very well designed or interpreted, but also that there may not be clearly uniform agreement of a theoditical beliefs by these people of the Jetty. Many of the questions were more inherently ambiguous, even with proper translation, thus being more difficult for people to answer in a definite and clear way. 26

 

Question Frame (Sentence Completion) Tasks

There was an assortment of other tasks that entailed completion of sentence frames. It appears that linguistically structured symbolic framing tasks do elicit patterns of response comparable in many respects to the other kinds of tasks such as the inkblots and drawing tasks. These tasks were difficult to administer, in part because of the translation problem, but also because of a great deal of resistance to their completion. 27

The following is a set of sentence completion tasks (n=12, Fry 1976:3) that dealt with feelings and attitudes toward family.28

1. My family is.... happy (50%); cheerful; big (33.3%); small; cooperative; "stable when my brother doesn't gamble."

2. I love... my family (41.67%); parents (25%); nature or mother (16.67%); teacher; relatives; friends; earth; and father. "

3. People... "are good" (25%); "must be together;" "must be realistic;" "are lovely;" "live on the earth;" "are different;" "are created by God."

4. Men... "are strong" (16.6%) "must be gentle;" "must not be selfish;" "made from soil;" "are more responsible;" "must work to live;" "must have a good job;" "are our protectors;" "are very rough;" "are very lusty."

5. Women are... intelligent and the bearers of children (16.6% each); "made from water;" make life more interesting;" caring; "must love the family;" "refined; hardworking.

6. Sister's are... good and solve our problems (16.6%); helpful; "family too;" friendly; clever.

7. Brother's are... good (25%); "must love each other;" "help each other when bullied by someone;" "are helping hands;" "are okay;" males.

8. Fathers... good (41.67%); dead (16.67%); gentle; loving; generous, hardworking, kind.

9. Mothers... good (33.3%); housewife (16.67%); kind; gentle; dead; lovely, friendly; hardworking; "loves my brother more but is a great woman."

10. Children... cute (50%); naughty (25%); wise; "gift from the Gods;" future; playful; innocent; "can like what they like."

11. A spouse... "must love each other;" good; "partner of life;" "future depender;" "must take care of family."

12. Marriage is... happiness (16.67%); "a funny and stupid thing;" "the way of men and women;" "the way to build a happy life;" "beginning of a new family;' "our valuable choice;" "help each other;" "traditional celebration."

13. I hate... dogs and cats (16.67% each); lying; fighting; loneliness; unhappiness; myself; strange and unnatural feelings; ticks; bad feelings.

14. I fear ... lizards (16.67%); dogs; cats; mice; loneliness; beatings; no money; mistreatment.

15. I think of myself as.... a good child (16.67%); very responsible; hardworking and generous; a tough girl; a gentleman; a good husband and father; a nurse.

A small sample (n=18) from a couple of sets of sentence completion tasks given to children proved quite interesting. Questions were originally constructed with the aim of getting at basic attitudes of children of various age groups. A number of "graded" tasks were thus designed and used. Responses are presented in order of descending frequencies (responses with percentages indicate one or two people only, and are included to give the range of different types of response):

1. What I like best about school is... PE. (77.8%); math (22.2%); playing badminton; playing; talking with friends; crafts; Chinese studies; Malay studies; English; sweeping the floor; cleaning the blackboard; the library that gives knowledge; and the Malay teacher who is a joker.

2. When I grow up I want to be...a policeman (22.2%) who catches robbers and thieves; a nurse; soldier; fireman who saves people; hairdresser; beautician; printing (like the brother); a writer working in a publishing company "because get to bring papers home to write with;" a typist because "I like playing with typewriters;" and a driver of alcoholic beverages.

3. My parents become angry when I... go out with friends (22.2%); go out and fight (22.2%); play around; steal things; gamble; beat my younger brother; don't do my homework; don't listen to them; go to the shopping mall with my friends; don't help with the housework; go to my friend's house; go swimming.

4. Bad things are...smoking (55.6%); drugs and gambling (44.5%); fighting (22.2%); stealing; gangs; mixing with other bad people; quarreling; "bad words, nothing else."

5. The leader of my country... is intelligent (77.8%); favors Malays (66.7%); is good; takes shares of bribes; disfavors Penang; takes care of the country.

6. The world will be a better place when..."there are no wars" (33.3%); "they don't take young girls to sell" (22.2%); no fighting (22.2%); no drugs; "we don't throw trash everywhere;" there is peace; "and other countries don't invade us;" no stealing; no gangs; no quarreling.

7. Children shouldn't...gamble (44.5%); smoke (33.3%); fight; scold; use foul words; "take mom's money to buy drugs;" "take mother's money to treat friends;" (22.2% each); "con mother's money," "scratch, vandalize, but in when older people are talking;" be bad; mix with gang members; play with fire; be truant; quarrel; scold teachers; use alcohol or drugs. "Teachers can hit. One hit three students, and we cut up the teacher's tires."

8. When I cross a street, I..."look carefully before crossing so that there are no cars;" (55.6%) see both sides (22.2%); go when there are no cars (22.2%); run across and be extra careful.

Two sets of five open-ended questions were also asked. These questions elicited conceptual domains over the central topics they addressed--namely Thai women, Singapore, Japanese, Malaysian Products, AIDS, Chinese, Whites, Blacks, Malays and Indians. They provide insight into how complex concepts such as these may be constructed and cohere across a cultural field. Traits and terms used to describe these concepts recur again and again throughout the elicitations with great frequency. No single concept is monotypic--each spans a range of values, images, experiences, beliefs which go into their construction. Neither do they exist in isolation from one another or from other domains of knowledge.

The first set of questions (n=120) were the following:

What do you think about Thai women?

What do you think about Singapore?

What do you think about the Japanese?

What do you think about things made in Malaysia?

What do you think about the AIDS problem in Malaysia?

1. Thai Women. Responses to the first question show that the most frequent terms to describe Thai women were "dark" (16.9%);"prostitutes" (13.7%); "like Malay" (8%); "same as Chinese" (8%); "some good/some bad" (8%); "sexy" (2.4%). 29

2. Singapore. Responses to the second question show the most frequent associations to "Singapore" were "clean" (22.58%); "good" (19.35%); "strict" (9.67%); "beautiful"(6.45%); "nice;" "developed" (5.64%). 30

3. Japanese. The most frequent association to the concept of the "Japanese" were fairness (complexion, 11.29%); shortness of stature (13.71%); manners (8.9%); intelligence (8.9%). 31

4. "Products made in Malaysia" had fewer overall elicitations than the other concepts, and was mostly associated with "good" (21.78%); "O.K." (16.9%); "imports better than" (9.67%); "not good" (9.67%); "good and bad;" "inferior." (9.67%) 32

5. "AIDS in Malaysia" was most associated with "in Malaysia" (46.77%); "not many cases" (33.87%); "a lot of cases" (12.9%). 33

 

The second set of questions were the following (n=30):

 

What do you think about Chinese people?

What do you think about White people?

What do you think about Black people?

What do you think about Malays?

What do you think about Indians?

 

Responses were:

1. "Chinese" associations include "hardworking" (33.3%); "selfish" (23.3%);"intelligent;" "unpunctual;" "stingy;" "face;" "talkative" (13.3% each). Other associations are "money faced," "good," and "greedy."

2. "Whites" associations are "friendly" (20%); "liberal" and "liberated" (16.67% each). Other associations are adventurousness, tall, enjoy self, "different thinking," "great thinking," and "easy going."

3. "Blacks" associations are "poor" (40%) and "white teeth" (16.67%) . Other salient associations are "curly hair," "tall," "good in sports," and "contempt by Whites".

4. "Malays" associations are "lazy" (33.33%) and "cooperative between themselves" (16.67%). Other associations are unsporting, selfish, government parades, hate, rich, follow the leader, dirty, proud, and easy-going.

5. "Indians" associations are "dirty" (23.3%); "poor" (16.67%); "drinking" (16.67%). Other salient associations are "fakers," beautiful eyes, "smelly," religious, hardworking, and "simple life."

 

Apperception Tasks

The apperceptive tasks employed upon the Jetty explored the themes of subjective identity cast in alternate and different role relationships with other persons. Several tasks were used. The two main tasks were constructed using cultural themata and images derived directly or indirectly from the local universe of the study. The other tasks included adapted versions of the CAT (Children's Apperception Test, adapted from Bellak 1971; Haworth 1966) and of the SAT (Senior Apperception Test, adapted from Bellak 1975:271-289), all of which were mostly administered to children and young adults.

The main task was referred to as the "Family Apperception Task" (or FAT) and was designed with the explicit purpose of eliciting culturally relevant thema concerning identity and attitudes in familially defined role relationships. The second main task ("Picture Apperception Task" or "PAT") took a range of wider social images from the local media, images that presented certain ambiguous situations or events in a larger world context.

All the apperceptive tasks combined proved valuable in exploring attitudes and identities that are clearly tied to familial roles and a kinship model of the world. The CAT explored primarily the parent child relationship. The SAT was effective in elucidating attitudes towards the elderly and grandparents. The FAT was effective in exploring the range and organization of the familial order, and the PAT proved of value in exploring the possible extensions of this order into a wider universe of social relations and settings, especially in cross-cultural contexts.

The CAT-S (Children's Apperception Test-Supplement, adapted from Bellak 1971: 252-263, n=12) is designed for very young children and its clear, simple drawings of animals in human clothes are especially interesting for young children.

1. The first card that shows four cats on a slide elicited a basic theme of four friends playing together on the slide, one that was made by the father. They played and played until the mother called them home to wash them, feed them and put them to bed.

2. The second card showing three monkeys at desks in a class reveals a theme of two or three children who are good friends from home who eat and go to school together, being punished by the teacher for not doing their work, and being jealous of the one standing and reading, are also punished. They become mischievous when they are outside, apologize to the teacher for being naughty, and go home to eat rice.

3. The third picture reveals a theme of a girl friend/boy friend or husband/wife relationship in which the female is very pretty for the man and is serving the man tea or a glass of water because she likes the man, they are happy and have or will have a baby.

4. The fourth picture reveals the them of a husband/wife and father/mother and "girl friend /boy friend" "lang people pandas" (crazy people bears) who get married, go to the doctor have a baby and love the baby very much. The father loves the baby, and finds food for them, but dies.

5. The fifth picture shows a "kangaroo" with a hurt leg on crutches, who went to the hospital after being hit by a car, and receives sympathy from the mother who cooks for it. "Then he can only eat vegetables and pork. He cannot eat shrimp and crab."

6. The sixth card deals with the theme of a four children running in a race together. They lose their mother while they are playing and become very hungry and sad. They get hungrier and hungrier as they look for their mother. "One mad man started laughing. The man was lost in the jungle. The man saw a tiger. The tiger ate he man up." Another older boy said: "One day two families live next door to each other. Twins. They had twins. A boy and a girl. So neighbors also had twins. A boy and a girl. They went to the playground. The park. The mother was kidnapped by somebody. They started looking for the mother. After a while they found her. They were very happy to find the mother. One of them was smiling."

7. The seventh picture reveals a theme of a pregnant cat who is very big and standing in front of a mirror preening herself and to see if she is pretty or not because her boyfriend is coming in a van to take her to the disco. One boy wrote this: "One day, one cat who was very, very stupid and one cat very ugly and one cat very beautiful. This one not very pretty. The mother beat her. This cat is no good. The mother scolded her. "Child is no good". This cat went later for a walk. She went inside her room and cried. She opened the door and went in."

8. The eighth theme is that of a sick child taken to the doctor by the mother and who is given medicine from the clinic.

9. The ninth card shows a child with a father/mother showering after coming in, and checking their body for something. They are getting ready to go shopping which makes the child happy, but the mother gets lost while shopping.

10. The tenth, final card shows a theme of a cat standing in front of a mirror with an apron and pregnant, wearing a necklace and a ribbon because she likes to pretty herself. A boy said this: "One day, its one cat with a friend, a very, very ugly friend. One day they fight and get scars. This cat stands in the mirror and is not very pretty. The cat is ugly and the mother beat her. She went out and people laughed at her. They teased her. The cat looked in the mirror and saw she was not very good. There are scars on her face. Her mother canned her. This baby is no good. One day, and the father and baby went to the swimming pool. They are very happy when they go home. The mother came home from work. It mother is very, very beautiful. It's mother and baby went shopping and went to see the butterflies. She's very, very happy. The baby walked to the room and went to sleep. Brush the teeth. It walked home and walked to the room.

Themes of separation, oral gratification as a form of expression of parental care and love, of being naughty, punishment, and low self-esteem are recurrent responses in this task. There is a sense of happiness that is attached to the family. The CAT (n=8) was adapted from those cards of the Indian, Japanese and English versions (Haworth, 1966:3-12) that were deemed most appropriate to the multicultural context of Malaysian society, and revealed the following set of themes from a group of children who were a little older:

1. The first card shows three children eating their lunch, talking and being happy, a father/mother/servant is then standing behind them watching them.

2. The second card shows three children/bears playing tug of war. Two are brothers. They are playing at a sports even. They get hungry and go home.

3. The third card shows a lion/man/father/Grandfather/elder sitting holding a pipe, dreaming, the child is on the floor looking at him. The man is blind and they are happy. He is also a boss. He tells his son he is going out.

4. The fourth card shows a mother followed by her child going to the market/supermarket in the morning to shop. The child wants an ice cream.

5. The fifth card shows the parents bedroom where the mother and father sleep with the child. Twins are sleeping soundly in the child's bed, "clasping each other." "This is a bed. It is a very big. I like this bed."

6. In the sixth picture the mother and father and child are sleeping soundly and happily in a "cave/forest/jungle."

7. The seventh picture shows a theme of a hungry/fierce "monster/father/tiger" trying to catch, hurt, eat the child/monkey, but the child doesn't want this and tries to run away. "There is a giant trying to put a kid into a pan which is boiling with the fire. The child is trying to escape from her by crawling up the rock."

8. The eight picture shows four people sitting at home, in clinic, at school or visiting for Chinese New Year, they are all talking, and the mother is teaching/scolding the child for being naughty.

9. The ninth picture shows a child sleeping alone in a dark bedroom. It is awake but tired. "One day, the child's mother are not in the house. But the door is open. the child woke up but the mother was not in the room."

10. The tenth card shows a father/mother taking the child to the toilet/bathroom to clean/shit/beat the child's bottom. The mother, who is angry, beats the child as the child cries out loudly for help.

In these pictures there was no great thematic elaboration or any deep, obvious Freudian content. They were treated in a matter of fact way, even when responses were sometimes unhappy or even disturbing. In all the pictures, the parent-child relationship is clearly marked and demonstrates recurring themes of love, sympathy, hunger and feeding, shopping, playing, separation, scolding, punishing, teaching and talking. The themes of being naughty and being beaten or scolded, reappear as with the CAT-S.

The SAT (Senior Apperception Test designed for senior adults, adapted from Bellak 1971: 271-289, n=8) was a little longer task of 16 cards depicting senior men and women in different situations. There is in these responses a sense of understanding of the feelings and predicament of the older people who are usually identified as grandparents/parents, but also there is a general lack of sentiment for their situation, sympathy perhaps precluded by the sense of filial obligation and responsibility.

The family apperception task ("FAT," n=14) is also of sixteen cards and is the most revealing as far as familial relationships are concerned. There is more sharing of alternate response types that reveals an interesting pattern of identification with different social roles:

1. The first picture shows alternately a father biding farewell to his son going abroad to study or to perform some feat (58%), and a boss advising, instructing, reprimanding a young employee (41.67%) The affinity of the boss and the father and the son and the employee is clear.

2. The second picture shows a good, happy family with husband/father, mother/wife, and son/child (100%) going out to play or shopping and having fun together. The positive valuation of the nuclear family and parent/child bonding in this picture is most salient. "The mother only has just one child so she loves him more, if she had another, she would not love him so much."

3. The third picture shows a young couple sitting together, either a husband (25%) /boyfriend (33%) and girlfriend (75%), being caught by an angry boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/father/mother who wants to scold and kill them. "Maybe that one is the ex-girlfriend of the boy. Because she is fat and has short hair the boy doesn't want her. Jealous."

4. In the fourth picture the mother is lifting a child (83.3%) because they are playing or there is a snake or the baby pissed. Alternately, a grandmother is lifting her niece or "Teacher (male) teaching student to dance. Holding the girl up like in gymnastics."

5. The fifth card shows a brother and a sister (91.3%) or a mother and a child being chased or frightened by a dog (91.3%) or playing with the dog (8.3%).

6. The sixth card shows a boy (83.3%) who is naughty, waiting for a friend, is very tall, or a man who is waiting or is a laborer. "He is a boy. The boy's name is John. He goes out and fights. When he gets home, his mother beats him. His mother sends him to stand outside."

7. The seventh card shows a doctor (41.67%), a father (33.3%) and a teacher (25%) with a boy who is sick and needs to take medicine (91.3%).

8. Eighth picture shows a mother taking the child to or from school (75%). In one it is a sister taking the child to school, or the mother is also the teacher, and in another scenario it is a bad woman who has kidnapped the child for one year. "Aunt, should I be dismissed early?" "No, you shouldn't. You must wait until the lesson is finished." "Why?" No, why not just follow my order. If not I will, I will..." "Will what?" Eat you!"

9. The ninth picture shows the daughter taking the mother (41.67%) or the granddaughter with the grandmother (25%) or an aunty (8.9%) or a bad woman who has stolen something and has been caught or a girl introducing an older friend to her mother. "The girl is showing filial piety toward her mother. I think they want to go to see the doctor because their faces showing very sad."

10. The tenth picture shows a girl who is a prostitute (83.3%) between two men who are bad men and forcing her into prostitution, or are police. "Two boys force the woman to sign the paper. The girl is a "chicken." "She sleeps with these two men." "The girl is a girl friend. Wear low-cut so can see the cleavage. The younger brother holds the woman on the shoulder. The older brother looks like one holding the girl's buttocks and her hand."

11. The eleventh picture shows a young girl (75%) playing with a rabbit on the bed. Alternately it is a man (16.67%) with a rabbit. "The man is showing sympathy because he plays with the rabbit during his free time, and he doesn't mind the rabbit smell." "She messed up the bed so the bed is now dirty. When the mother knocked at the door she quickly hid the rabbit under the covers. Mother asked why it is so dirty. Rabbit ran out under covers so mother beat the girl up. The mother beat her until she has cane marks all on her leg. So the girl decided to give up the rabbit and put it back where she found it and walked home."

12. The twelfth picture shows three women talking (66.6%) or three girls or three people playing (33.3%) or "a mother, grandmother and granddaughter." (8.9%) It could be a wedding, or they are in the kitchen. "Three snoopy women sitting in a five foot way and gossip about some people who they don't know and none of their business."

13. The thirteenth picture shows "James and Joan were at the sports room. They were training about the 'kung fu,' or alternately a man and woman going to investigate something that happened or a girl welcoming a boy to her house.

14. The fourteenth picture shows a woman with pots "See how fair she is?" "Thinner than you!" "What?" "Thinner than you." "Enough, look how more beautiful than the containers." "Me once more pretty" "Stupid!"

15. The fifteenth picture shows one man sitting between two other men who are trying to force him to do something he doesn't want.

16. The final picture shows three friends spinning a top in front of their house (100%).

There is no correct manner of analyzing or interpreting these patterns of response. There is no great affective elaboration of themes. Images of the pictures were treated in a matter of fact way. 34

The themes of parent/child relations are recurrent enough to suggest that these are important interpretations of otherwise vague and ambiguous pictures. Though sample sizes are small, enough sharing of similar, recurrent thema recurs to suggest that these analogies are culturally important. The analogous associations of status identities, such as "boy/son/boyfriend/father" and "girl/daughter/girlfriend/mother" that are distinguished primarily on the basis of gender and age (for instance, items 1, 4 and 9 in the CAT-S above; items 1,3, 7 and 10 in the CAT above; items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 12 of the FAT above), suggest a form of thematic elaboration of homologous pairs (i.e., boy/girl, son/daughter, boyfriend/girlfriend, father/mother) that are elaborated in alternative (perceived or imagined) contextual settings and that may be symbolically interchangeable. Thus a quaternary structure of analogy is suggested:

 

boy is to son is to boyfriend is to father

as as as as

girl is to daughter is to girlfriend is to mother

 

This theme can be easily extended onto other authority models, as for instance when father becomes uncle, boss, doctor, teacher, grandfather, or mother becomes aunty, nurse, teacher, grandmother. We can imagine an extension of the previous model as:

 

father is to uncle is to doctor is to teacher is to grandfather

as as as as as

mother is to aunty is to nurse is to teacher is to grandmother

 

Certain kinds of relationships like those considered for the grid tasks, like "giving money to" or "scolding," may hold across different analogical sets of relationships, such as between mother and daughter or grandmother and granddaughter, as well as between student and teacher or child and nurse (but possibly not for others: i.e., sisters/aunties/in-laws). Those expectations of differences in relationships may be transferable between different homologous sets, exceptional differences would still occur marking the difference the sets. The cultural calculus of variables then would enter into play in the differential elaboration of these relationships, and the asymmetry of these relationships (older/younger; male/female) would lead to a partially deterministic model.

 

mothers scold/beat/feed daughters plays with girlfriends

shop with as fight/play with as kiss/flirt

fathers punish/eat/feed sons play with boyfriends

 

or

 

nurse/woman kidnaps/cares for boy helps aunty/grandmother

is to as is to as is to

policeman/man pimp/blackmail girl respects uncle/grandfather

 

Those patterns of relationship which hold strongly between mother, father, son and daughter, may be transferred in a more diluted manner to other, homologous kinds of relationships, such as grandmother, grandfather, schoolmates or girl friends. This analogical structure is most elaborated and evident with the FAT, but becomes more diffuse in the thematic elaboration of the PAT (Picture Apperception Task) in that the representations of real persons in a broader range of social roles is less inherently ambiguous, but the setting, roles and actions remain vague and uncertain.

The PAT (n=16) had 21 pictures that were taken directly from local newspapers depicting social situations and events that were both relatively ambiguous and also sometimes graphic. The pictures elicited a variety of themes about authority, familial relations, conflict, disaster and accidents, violence, sexuality, school, and cross-cultural (Malay) customs etc. It appears that in these tasks the same basic familial patterns of identification are largely carried over into most of these pictures. It shows a strong ambivalence towards authority (i.e., the police), with a strong recognition of the correctness of authority, as with police arm locking a young "protester" who is a "bad person" (75%), and at the same time a distrust of authority as being deceitful or vicarious. It reveals themes of "mother-love" and "father-love" as both a sense of obligation and responsibility to care for, feed and play with the child, and these themes are largely carried over to contexts of the Malay household. Authority and responsibility appear to be positively valued, and women and men in uniform or in business suits are handsome and pretty.

These apperception tasks suggest, through their repetitive thematic elaboration of familial roles and interaction, that kinship appears to be central in importance in defining personal identity and interpersonal relationships. This model is basically a moral one of filial obligation and reciprocal duties and interactions between parents and child. The model of parents as care-takers/guardians/nurturers/givers of food and their inherent ambivalence as punishers is easily extended onto other authority role models in society--teachers, bosses, police, doctors and grandparents and uncles. Though there is a sense of duty, there is a not necessarily a connected sense of great romantic sentimentality.

An interpretation of these tasks suggests that the basic ambivalence that exists in the parent-child relationship (the parent as giver of money or food versus the parent as punisher), may be transferred out onto a wider nexus of relationships as an inherent ambivalence of identity (i.e., respect for and identification with the authority police, bosses, teachers, versus a basic distrust or fear of the possible arbitrariness of authority). Such ambivalence of identification with outside authority may undercut an individual's capacity to internalize completely the dominant values and norms of the host society or to form relationships in a broader society based upon "trust." This is especially the case when there may be competing or incompatible or "discrepant" sets of norms. (i.e. Chinese versus Malay, Berger and Luckmann 1967:165-173)