An exploratory model of family resilience processes and functioning: A cultural perspective of the Semai indigenous communities in Perak, Malaysia

Ryan Yumin Chua, Amudha Kadirvelu, Shajahan Yasin, Miriam Sang Ah Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Given the challenges experienced by the Semai indigenous communities in Perak, Malaysia, and their distinct cultural beliefs, it is important to understand the role of the social and cultural networks in their resilience processes. In particular, further attention needs to be paid to how their families function and shape their beliefs about their lives, as there might be key mechanisms and processes that differ from existing general conceptualizations of family. This grounded theory analysis of 23 Semai Orang Asli (indigenous) community members established a model of the Semai’s family conceptualization and functioning. Findings revealed that the Semai’s concept of family encompasses an extensive network of individuals with their shared relationship with nyenang (spirit ancestors) and cultural heritage, which in turn leads them to have a deep sense of shared family identity and connectedness. This worldview guided the Semai’s family processes and functioning, captured by the following five dimensions: sharing obligations and responsibilities, making collective decisions, prioritizing community’s welfare, sharing of knowledge and resources, and willingness to work with everyone. These factors facilitate a conducive and supportive environment aimed at maintaining existing family relationships. This model can guide the development of culturally specific programs that promote and strengthen indigenous family relationships and resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-582
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Family processes and functioning
  • indigenous culture
  • indigenous family model
  • Peninsular Malaysia
  • Semai
  • Southeast Asia

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