Financialization of Malaysian Citizens

  • Syahirah Abdul Rahman

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis explores the roles that elites and citizens have in influencing the processes of financialization. The thesis' observation on financialization is underpinned by the theory of financial citizenship development, the process of expanding rights of ordinary citizens to have access to financial markets and skills, regardless of their profession, educational background, or income status. Using a cultural political economy approach, the research in this thesis has been conducted to address two objectives. Firstly, the thesis responds to limitations in existing financialization studies which tends to focus on Anglo-American or European contexts. In doing so, the thesis highlights the argument that financialization is diverse and shaped by localised factors. Secondly, the thesis observes financialization from a multidimensional perspective. As such, the research conducted pays attention to financial citizenship and the responsibilities and actions of the actors involved in its development, more importantly, elites and citizens. To highlight the localised nature of financialization, the thesis considers the colonial histories of Malaysia and its impact on financial citizenship development. The stock market has been chosen as a site for observation due to its role in facilitating financial citizenship development along nation building objectives during Malaysia's postcolonial and post-independence periods. A mixed methods research has been employed to address the thesis' research questions. A combination of secondary data analysis and sequential semi-structured interviews with 13 high-ranking elites and 30 financial citizens (citizens who are actively investing in the stock market) was used to arrive at the thesis' analysis and discussions. This thesis' findings extend existing understanding of financial citizenship development by providing empirical analysis that problematises its democratic notion. Firstly, specific to Malaysia is the combination of elites preparing citizens to become individualised, self-acting actors; while at the same time aspiring for nation building goals. The misrecognition of financial citizenship as a simultaneous solution for nation building and the betterment of citizens' lives is that it still does not address the existing inequalities in the Malaysian financial system. Secondly, the thesis demonstrates that financial citizens also play important roles in financial citizenship development; although, their behaviours might not perfectly align with the kind of outcomes envisioned by elites and are sometimes conducted in resistance of the elites themselves. Instead, the case of Malaysian financial citizens demonstrates that their influences in financial citizenship development are characterised by social and cultural conditions.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorIsmail Erturk (Supervisor) & Julie Froud (Supervisor)


  • financial education
  • financial inclusion
  • stock market
  • financialization
  • Malaysia
  • financial citizenship

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