Associations and Social Functions of Chinese in Penang in the 18th to Early 20th Centuries

Persatuan dan Fungsi Sosial dalam Masyarakat Cina di Pulau Pinang Pada Abad ke-18 Sehingga Awal Abad ke-20


  • Teioh Hui Shin Pusat Pengajian Ilmu Kemanusiaan, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, MALAYSIA
  • Aiza Maslan @ Baharudin Pusat Pengajian Ilmu Kemanusiaan, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, MALAYSIA



Diaspora, migration, Penang social structure, Chinese Associations, social function


This article aims to analyze the history of Chinese migration to Penang, the form and social function of the Chinese Association in Penang in building the social order of the Chinese community in Penang around the 18th to the 20th century. The association was an important element in building the social structure of the Chinese community as they migrated to new settlements. Chinese migration can be traced back through a long history. The wave of migration that took place during the 18th through the 20th centuries had the biggest impact on the region’s socioeconomic landscape. Since the 18th century, the Chinese migrated to Penang in large groups for economic needs. As the community grew larger through this wave of migration, they gathered to help each other. Eventually, this resulted in an important phenomenon whereby Chinese associations were established based on kinship, locality, dialect and profession. These associations played important roles in developing the social structure of the Chinese community in Penang. This study is conducted using qualitative research methods. Analysis of the study was done based on the primary source which is the Straits Settlements Government Gazette and Supplement to Straits Settlements Government Gazette. The analysis of secondary sources was based on self-published magazines and books by Chinese associations with limited circulation, books and journal articles. The findings of the study indicate that Chinese associations had been established based on the principles of family, locality, dialect and field of occupation. Each association plays its social function by providing a place of dependence, carrying out religious activity, customary and cultural activities as well as fostering the unity of the Chinese community. Thus, Chinese associations in Penang have succeeded in forming a systematic social order based on the organising principle and the social functions played in Chinese society.



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How to Cite

Hui Shin, T., & Maslan @ Baharudin, A. (2022). Associations and Social Functions of Chinese in Penang in the 18th to Early 20th Centuries: Persatuan dan Fungsi Sosial dalam Masyarakat Cina di Pulau Pinang Pada Abad ke-18 Sehingga Awal Abad ke-20. Perspektif Jurnal Sains Sosial Dan Kemanusiaan, 14(1), 1–17.