Followership: Boosting Power and Position in Popular TV Fiction

Mohd Muzhafar Idrus, Ruzy Suliza Hashim, Raihanah M M


Research by Andaya (1999) has shown that the “expansion of authority” in Southeast Asia is jostled through culture. In Malay archipelago, such authority and legitimacy are manifested in the regulation of “dress, language, and custom,” reinforcing powerful gains emanating from wide cultural control. Following this premise, we seek to provide insights that work in tandem with how culture evolves to signify one’s power and position through conversational exchanges palpable in popular TV fiction. Specifically, in this paper, we argue that reasons related to culture including religion and communal beliefs are employed by the “dominant knower” to prevail in TV fiction’s narrative exchanges. Based on Conversation Analysis (CA) of Julia and On Dhia, we show that “dominant knowers” triumph using Malay adat (customs), as a reasoning firstly to justify the behavior of everyday discourse (friendships, relationships, and parenthood) and secondly to explicate one’s choices in instituting the roles of women and men in the Malay world. Through such analysis, it is also found that any arguments through logic are denied and eliminated. Given these findings, this study demonstrates whether followers do or do not possess agency and whether followership does or does not dwell on loyalty to friendship and kinship over the course of navigating their private and public lives. By focusing on the narrative exchanges, we also contend that although TV fiction evokes issues that are decidedly modern and liberal in response to forces of globalization, Malay adat is still powerful for boosting power and authority in everyday Malay discourse. 





narrative exchange; conversation analysis; TV fiction; Malay adat; power

Full Text:



Abell, J., Stokoe, E. & Billig, M. (2000). Narrative and the Discursive (re)Construction of Events. In Andrews, M. (Ed.). Lines of Narrative: Psychosocial Perspectives (pp. 180-192). London: Routledge.

Al-Surmi. (2012). Authenticity and TV shows: A Multidimensional Analysis Perspectives. TESOL Quarterly. 46(4), 671-694.

Andaya, B W. (1999). Political Development between Sixteenth and Eighteenth Centuries. In N. Tarlig, (Ed.). The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: Volume Two (pp. 58-111). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Banks, D. J. (1976). Islam and Inheritance in Malaya: Culture Conflict or Islamic Revolution? American Ethnologist. 3(4), 573-586.

Briggs, C. (Ed.). (1996). Disorderly Discourse: Narrative, Conflict and Inequality. Oxford University Press.

Bruner, J. (1996). The Culture of Education. Cambridge University Press.

Budiey. (2010). Sekitar sesi temu ramah mesra bersama drama pelakon. Sensasi Selebriti. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from

De Fina, A. & Georgakopolou, A. (2012). Narrative and Sociocultural Variability. In De Fina, A. & Georgakolou, A. (Eds.). Analyzing Narrative: Discourse and Sociolinguistic Perspectives (pp. 52-83). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dhoest, A. (2004). Negotiating Images of the Nation: The Production of Flemish TV Drama, 1953-1989. Media, Culture & Society. 26(3), 393-408.

Dhoest, A. (2007). Identifying with the Nation: Viewer Memories of Flemish TV Fiction. European Journal of Cultural Studies. 10(1), 55-73.

Dhoest, A. (2011). When Regional Becomes National: The Production and Reception of Flemish TV Drama in a Culturally

Divided Country. Critical Studies in Television. 6(2), 13-23.

Farish, Mohd Noor. (2010). The other Malaysia. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

Foo, T. T. (2004). Managing the content of Malaysian television drama: Producers, gatekeepers and the Barisan Nasional Government. Unpublished Ph.D thesis, Ohio University, Athens, United States of America.

Gibson, E. M. (2008). Who has the last word? Retrieved April 23, 2013 from

Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face to Face Behavior. New York: Pantheon.

Goodwin, C. (1986). Audience Diversity, Participation and Interpretation. Text. 6(3), 283-316.

Goodwin, C. (1997). By-Play: Negotiating evaluation in story-telling. In Guy, G. R., Feagin, C., Schiffrin, D. & Baugh, J. (Eds.). Towards a Social Science of Language: Papers in Honor of William Labov: Vol II: Social Interaction and Discourse Structures (pp. 77-102). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Grant, L. & Starks, D. (2001). Screening Appropriate Teaching Materials: Closings from Textbooks and Television Soap Operas. International Review of Applied Linguistics. 39(1), 39-50.

Gray, J. G., & Lotz, A. (2012). Television Studies. New York: Polity Press.

Healey, L. (1994). Modernity, Identity and Construction of Malay Womanhood. In A. Gomez, (Ed.). Modernity and Identity: Asian Illustrations (pp. 111-130). Victoria: La Trobe University Press.

Hutchby, I. (2006). Media Talk: Conversation Analysis and the Study of Broadcasting. Glasgow: Open University Press.

Hutchby, I. & Wooffitt, R. (2008). Conversation Analysis. Manchester: Polity Press.

Jerome, C. (2013). The Complexity of Malay Muslim Identity in Dina Zaman, "I am Muslim." GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies. 13(2), 169-179.

Joseph, N. G. (2013). Malaysian Masculine Expose: Queering the Politics Of Non Heteronormative Malay-Muslim men. Paper presented at Queer Sexualities Conference. Sydney: Australia. February.

Kessler, C. S. (1992). Archaism and Modernity: Contemporary Malay political Culture. In Kahn, J. & Francis L. K. W. (Eds.). Fragmented Vision (pp. 133-157). Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

Khoo, G. C. (2007). Reclaiming Adat: Contemporary Malaysian Film and Literature. Singapore: Singapore University Press.

Khoo, G. C. (2010). Gendering Old and New Malay through Malaysian Auteur Filmmaker U-Wei Haji Saari's Literary Adaptations, the Arsonist (1995) and Swing My Swing High, My

Darling (2004). South East Asia Research. 18(2), 301-324.

Kim, W. L. (2010). Consumers, Citizens and Copycat Television. In Guan, Y. S. (Ed.). Media, Culture, and Society (pp. 1-20). UK: Routledge.

Lent, J. A. (1975). Government Policies Reshape Malaysia's Diverse Media. Journalism Quarterly. 52(4), 663-669.

MacIntyre, A. (1981). After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Notre dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Malaysia Merdeka. (2013). Rukunegara. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from

Markee, N. P. (2000). Conversation Analysis. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Mat Saad Baki. (1993). Malay Behavior. In Abdul Halim Othman (Ed.). Psikologi Melayu (pp. 344-386). Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

McAdams, D. P. (1988). Power, Intimacy and the Life Story: Personological Inquiries into Identity. New York: The Guildford Press.

McDaniel, D. (1994). Broadcasting in the Malay World: Radio, Television, and Video in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Northwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Media Prima Sdn. Bhd. (2012). Financial and business review. Retrieved March 13, 2014 from ibq/2012/IB%20Q1%202012.pdf

Media Prima Sdn. Bhd. (2013). Annual report. Retrieved June 10, 2014 from

Milner, A. (2008). The Malays. United Kingdom. Wiley-Blackwell.

Mohd Muzhafar Idrus, Ruzy Suliza Hashim, Raihanah, M. M. (2014a). Popular Culture: Power and Position in Popular TV Fiction. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences. 118, 330-334.

Mohd Muzhafar Idrus, Ruzy Suliza Hashim, Raihanah, M. M. (2014b). Imagining Alternative Modernity: Negotiating Islamic-ness and Malay-ness on Popular TV Fiction. Asian Economic and Financial Review. 4(12), 1798-1811.

Mohd Muzhafar Idrus, Ruzy Suliza Hashim, Raihanah, M. M. (2014c). Power, Adat, and Popular TV Fiction Imaginary. Asian Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities. 3(4), 186-196.

Mohd Muzhafar Idrus, Ruzy Suliza Hashim, Raihanah, M. M. (2015). Malay Cultural Identities: A Review. Humanities and Social Sciences Letters. 3(1), 1-9.

Nain, Z. (1991). Politics, Economics and the Media in Malaysia. Media Development. 38(3).

Nain, Z. (2002). The structure of the Media Industries: Implications for Democracy. In Loh, K. W. & Khoo, B. T. (Eds.). Democracy in Malaysia: Discourses and practices. London: Curzon.

New Straits Times. (2006). Rahmah Idris. 18 November.

Norman Yusoff. (2013). Sepet, Muksin, and Talentime: Yasmin Ahmad’s melodrama of the melancholic boy-in-love. Asian Cinema. 22(2), 20-46.

Ong, A. (1990). State Versus Islamic: Malay Families, Women’s Bodies, and the Body Politics in Malaysia. American Ethnologist. 17(2), 258-276.

Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Provencher, R. (1972). Comparison of social interaction styles: urban and rural Malay culture. The Society for Applied Anthropology Monograph Series: Issue 11. Washington: Society for Applied Anthropology.

RTM. (2013). Visions, Missions, and Objectives. Retrieved October 28, 2013 from

Ruzy Suliza Hashim. (2003). Out of the Shadows: Women in Malay Court Narratives. Bangi: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Sarbin, T. R. (1986). Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct. New York: Praeger Publishers.

Schegloff, E. A. (1999). Schegloff’s Texts’ as Billig’s Data: A Critical Reply. Discourse and Society, 10(4), 558-572.

Siti Zanariah Ahmad Ishak. (2011). Cultural Hybridity: Adapting and Filtering Popular Culture in Malaysian Television Programmes. Malaysian Journal of Media Studies.13(1), 1-15.

Stivens, M. (1998). Sex, Gender, and The Making of the New Malay Middle Classes. In Sen, K & Stivens, M. (Eds.). Gender and Power Affluent Asia (pp.60-90). London: Routledge.

Syed Mohamed Ahmad Thamrini Fadzlin, Yusof Noraini Mohd & Ruzy Suliza Hashim. (2010). Making of a Native Orientalist: Latent Orientalism in "Confessions of an Old Boy: The Dato' Hamid Adventures." 3L: Language Linguistics Literature®, Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies. 16(2), 140-168.

Taib Ahmad. (1974). Modernization in a Malay Society Peasant Society. Akademika. 3, 15-24.

Thimm, V. (2013). Gender and the body in transnational space: Female educational migrants from Malaysia in Singapore. Retrieved October 12, 2013 from wpaper.pdf

Tonton. (2014). Tonton statistics. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from

Ungku Maimunah Mohd Tahir. (1987). Modern Malay Literary Culture: A Historical Perspective. Singapore: Institute of East Asian Studies.

Wang, L. K. (2001). Media and Democracy in Malaysia. The Public Javnost. Journal of the European Institute for Communication and Culture. 8(2).

Wang, D. (2012). Self-Directed English Language Learning through Watching English Television Drama in China. Changing English. 19(3), 339-348.

Wazir Jahan Karim. (1990). Emotions of Culture: A Malay Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wazir Jahan Karim. (1992). Women and Culture: Between Malay Adat and Islam. Boulder: Westview.

Zainal Kling. (1995). Malay Family: Beliefs and Reality. Journal of Comparative Family Studies. 26(1), 43-66.

Zimmerman, D. & Weider, D L. (1970). Ethnomethodology and the Problem of Order: Comment on Denzin. In Douglas, J.D. (Ed.). Understanding Everyday Life: Toward the Reconstruction of Sociological Knowledge (pp. 285-298). Chicago: Aldine.


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2131

ISSN : 1675-8021