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Interracial Marriage Resistance by Minangkabau Traditional Figures, Mamak and BundoKanduang, in Film (Sociological Analysis of the Film Liam and Laila)

  • Dessita Chairani
  • 1233-1244
  • Jun 11, 2024
  • Sociology

Interracial Marriage Resistance by Minangkabau Traditional Figures, Mamak and BundoKanduang, in Film (Sociological Analysis of the Film Liam and Laila)

Dessita Chairani

University of Indonesia, Indonesia


Received: 17 April 2024; Accepted: 10 May 2024; Published: 11 June 2024


The marriage between an Indonesian man and an English woman caused a sensation among the Indonesian society back in 2015. The marriage of Bayu Kumbara, a man from West Sumatra, with an English woman named Jennifer Brocklehurst went viral among Indonesian people. Bayu, who worked as a tour guide, met Jennifer when she hired his services as a guide during her visit to West Sumatra. This was the moment of their meeting, which eventually led to their marriage on October 1, 2016 (Prasetyowati, 2018). In addition to Bayu and Jennifer, there was also a young man from Magelang named Karna Radheya, who married an English woman named Polly Alexandria. Their marriage in 2018 was widely reported by the Indonesian mass media.

Both of these interracial marriages were reported with a narrative of racial inferiority by local news media. Racial inferiority, or the Inferiority Complex Syndrome, creates the stereotype of foreigners as physically attractive, affluent, and intellectually superior individuals. The stereotype for Indonesian people themselves is the opposite (Kennedy, 2018).

This stereotype of foreigners is not only limited to foreigners of Caucasian race but also extends to other races. Just like the experience of Vera Nanda Putri, a woman from West Sumatra who married a man from South Korea. Nanda and Park Jun decided to get married after being in a romantic relationship for five months. Their marriage was not only interracial but also interreligious and intercultural. They chose to hold a wedding ceremony blending Minang and South Korean customs (Saputri, 2018). Unfortunately, Nanda and Jun’s marriage received many negative comments, especially from netizens. Nanda was often targeted by netizens. Many people believed that their story with Jun resembled a stage setup, similar to a Korean drama series.

Negative comments from netizens are not something strange because, in fact, this phenomenon is not something new. Kevin Noble Maillard (Ruhana, 2018), a law professor from Syracuse University, stated that the number of interracial marriages has been increasing in the last 50 years, influenced by shifting social norms and public validation through the media. Lehmiller (2012) also mentioned that the rate of interracial marriages has significantly risen, but social support for these interracial couples still needs further examination. However, individuals who enter into interracial marriages sometimes have to deal with a lack of acceptance from society, discriminatory treatment, rejection from family and close ones, and a lack of social support (Lewis, 2013; Bratter & Eschbach, 2005).

Nanda’s family themselves accepted Nanda’s decision to marry Jun but with one condition: Jun must be willing to convert to Islam (Saputri, 2018). This condition aligns with the customs of Nanda’s family, who was of Minangkabau descent, whose customs are based on Islamic teachings. Thus, the customary law that applies in Minangkabau society is Islamic law (Van de Berg, as cited in Yaswirman, 2013). Therefore, marriage must also be based on Islamic law.

Minangkabau (Minang) is widely known for its matrilineal social system. This means that in the lineage of the extended family, the unity of the Minangkabau family’s social system is based on the relationship with the mother (Yunus, 1984). In fact, the Minangkabau community is currently the largest matrilineal community in the world (Navis, 1984; Saphiro, 2017).

In Minangkabau culture, marriage is considered one of the most significant events in the cycle of life. According to customary law, marriage is a matter of relatives, family, community, and the personal affairs of the individuals involved, each with their own unique dynamics (B Ter Haar Bzn 1999, as cited in Asmaniar, 2018). Thus, from a cultural perspective, marriage is not just a matter between two individuals who are getting married, but also a matter of shared responsibilities and obligations involving the families and the customary community of both sides.

Example of an interracial marriage in Minangkabau culture is depicted in the film “Liam & Laila” by Arief Malinmudo. The film tells the story of Liam, a man from France, who wants to marry a woman from Bukittinggi named Laila. Liam met Laila while studying Islam and getting acquainted with her through Facebook. After three years of continuous online communication, Liam finally goes to Bukittinggi with two goals. First, to embrace Islam, and second, to marry Laila, the Minang girl who captured his heart. The film portrays Liam’s struggle for thirty days to win over Laila’s family and obtain their permission to marry her. Resistance is depicted as initially coming from Laila’s parents and mamak (maternal uncle).

A mamak is the maternal uncle who plays a significant role in the life of his niece, especially when she is getting married. This is because, in Minangkabau society, the mamak has an important role for the daughters in the matrilineal lineage. Marriage is one of those instances. Even after getting married and joining the wife’s family, the mamak still bears responsibility towards his niece, especially for nieces whose fathers have passed away or are economically incapable (Asmiar, 2018).

In terms of resistance, the strongestcomes from BundoKanduang, the oldest female relative in Laila’s family. Simply put, BundoKanduang is a non-formal leader for all the daughters and granddaughters within a community. This leadership grows from the abilities and charisma of women as individuals, supported and recognized by all members within their community (Diradjo, 2009, as cited in Sola, 2020).

Within the extended family, BundoKanduang is responsible for all relatives, not only her own children and the children of her sisters, but also adopted or included individuals within the lineage. Those beneath this lineage are expected to follow the advice and guidance of senior family members, a relationship justified through customs. As the head of the family within the elite lineage, the eldest woman is empowered to make decisions regarding the social and ceremonial practices concerning those within the lineage (Blackwood, 2000).

Therefore, the approval of Mamak and BundoKanduang is important for Liam to marry Laila. Based on this depiction, the researcher aims to examine how the resistance to interracial marriage by the Minangkabau traditional figure BundoKanduang can be analysed using Robert K. Merton’s Structural Functionalist Theory.

Merton views harmony and integration as functional, highly valued, and should be maintained, while conflict should be avoided. Therefore, this theory opposes any efforts that would disrupt the status quo, including those related to the relationship between men and women in society as it has been traditionally understood. This theory developed to analyze the social structure of a society, which consists of various interrelated elements despite having different functions (Umanailo, 2019).

If applied to the family context, this theory assumes that in order to fulfill its functions optimally, the family must have a specific structure. Structure in this context refers to the arrangement of roles within a social system. Another term for this structural functionalist approach is ‘system analysis.’ This theory encompasses several concepts, but the main ones are the concept of function and the concept of structure (Adibah, 2017). Therefore, the researcher will examine the resistance from Mamak and BundoKanduang based on the concepts of structure and function within Robert K. Merton’s structural functionalist theory.

Research Questions

Based on the title of this research, which is “Resistance of Interracial Marriage by Minangkabau Traditional Figures Mamak and BundoKanduang in the Film (Sociological Analysis of the Film Liam and Laila),” the research question formulated is: How do the characters Mamak and BundoKanduang resist interracial marriage in the film Liam and Laila?


The Structural Functionalism Theory by Robert K. Merton

The Structural Functionalism theory is one of the most well-known streams within the sociological paradigm. Although there are many scholars who are not all experts in theoretical thinking, this perspective genuinely believes that sociology is a study of social structure as interdependent units formed by interconnected parts. The structural functionalism approach itself is a sociological theoretical approach applied to the institution of the family. This approach views the family as an institution within society with similar principles found in social life (Adibah, 2017). Berger (1991) in his book titled “Media Analysis Techniques” defines functionalism as something that functions when it contributes to the maintenance and stability of any entity that it is a part of.

One influential figure in this theory is Robert K. Merton. This theory views society as a complex system consisting of interconnected parts that are interdependent and have significant influence on other parts. Each part of society exists because it serves an important function in maintaining the existence and stability of society as a whole. If there is a disturbance in one part, society will automatically tend to make adjustments in other parts to achieve harmony and stability (Adibah, 2017). This disturbance can then lead to social change. Although rare and unusual, social change will result in overall beneficial consequences (Sanderson, 2000).

Adibah (2017), in her research, applies the theory of structural functionalism to the context of the family. This context can be seen from the structure and rules established, where the family is a universal unit with its own regulations. Without rules or functions performed by family members, the family lacks meaning that can generate happiness. Several conditions that can help families fulfill their functions include harmony in the division and execution of role functions, solidarity, commitment to rights, obligations, and shared values (Levy in Megawangi, 1999). Therefore, the concepts of structure and function are important in discussing this theory.

The concept of structure has three main elements in the internal structure of the family that are interrelated: (1) social status, which can manifest in figures such as housewives, school children, toddlers; (2) social function, where this theory attempts to explain how the system functions according to its roles in society; and (3) social norms in the form of rules that describe how individuals behave in their social life. Then, in the concept of function, the family structure as a social system can function if there is: (1) role allocation; (2) solidarity allocation; (3) economic allocation; and (4) political allocation (Adibah, 2017).

Centrifugal Society

The centrifugal and centripetal forces exist within the same dimension, for example, in the fields of religion, language, ethnicity, governance, and physical geography. Each of these forces has the ability to unite or divide a country. There are several types of centrifugal forces that originate from human-made concepts, such as cultural differences, religious beliefs, and economic activities. A country must have greater centripetal forces than centrifugal forces to sustain itself. If centrifugal forces reach their peak, it can lead to Balkanization, which is the fragmentation of a country due to ethnic conflicts.

In the cultural dimension, centrifugal forces can divide in the same way centripetal forces unite. Cultural diversity in many countries leads to strong conflicts among their communities. In a country, religious differences can become a major force. Such divisions can lead to separatist movements, as seen with the Sikh community in India or the Kurds in Turkey. Differences in ideology between Shia and Sunni Muslims can also be an example of how centrifugal forces can divide rather than unite. Language can also create differences among countries, as seen in India where more than a dozen official languages are used. Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts (The Albert Team, 2022).

Mamak (Maternal Uncle)

In general, Mamak is the male relative from the maternal lineage. Mamak has the responsibility to guide the kemenakan (nephew/niece) who is the child of his sister. So, someone in Minangkabau has two protectors, namely Mamak and Father (Hafizah, 2019). As the customary saying goes (Hakimy, 1984):

Anak dipangkukemenakandibimbiang(A child is carried on the lap, while a nephew is guided by the hand)

anakdipangku jo pancariankamanakandibimbiang jo pusako (A child is carried with sustenance, while a nephew is guided with heritage)

This proverb emphasizes the distinction in the way children and nephews are treated. While children receive direct support and care, nephews are guided and mentored, particularly in matters related to livelihood (sustenance) and cultural heritage. From this proverb, it can be understood that Mamak has the role of guiding and protecting his nieces, similar to the role of a father to his children. Minangkabau men have two social functions:(1) as a father to their biological children; and (2) as a Mamak to their nieces. As a Mamak, Minangkabau men have the responsibility to lead and take care of the safety of their female siblings, children, and nieces in matters related to customs, inheritance, and marriage. Mamak is obligated to pay attention to and protect his nieces (Hafizah, 2019).

BundoKanduang (Oldest Female in the Family)

Limpapehrumah nan gadang (The supporter of the household)

sumarak di dalamkampuang (glory of the village)

hiasandalamnagari (adorned within the town)

kokiduiktampekbanasa (making a vow when alive)

kokmatitampekbaniat (doing intention when deceased)

kaunduang-unduang ka Madinah (as a protector for the way to Madinah)

ka payuangpanji ka sarugo (as a bannerman to the heaven)

cahayorumahselendangdunie (the light of the household for embracing the world)

(Amir, 2007)

Limpapeh has the meaning of the central pillar of a Minangkabau traditional house. The role of Limpapeh in strengthening and upholding the structure is an analogy to the role of a mother within a family. In Minangkabau culture, the central pillar of the traditional house represents the stability and strength of the entire structure. Similarly, the analogy suggests that the mother plays a crucial role in providing support, stability, and unity within the family (Harifa, 2022).

The above Minang proverb is a description of Minang women who hold influential positions within their community (family and society). “Limpapehrumah nan gadang” signifies that women play the role of exemplary figures. “Sumarak di dalamkampuang, hiasandalamnagari” means that women provide inspiration, vitality, and motivation to the younger generation in the community while preserving Minangkabau traditions. The phrases “kokiduiktampekbanasa” and “kokmatitampekbaniat” imply that BundoKanduang, as a woman in Minangkabau, has the role of providing both physical and mental protection to family members.

Furthermore, within the family, BundoKanduang is referred to as “kanduang-kanduang ka Madinah,” which means she motivates and encourages hard work and frugality to save for the pilgrimage (hajj). However, this proverb also broadly implies that BundoKanduang’s role includes designing and implementing long-term economic plans for the family. Additionally, as the manager of the family’s valuable assets, BundoKanduang ensures their stability. Finally, “ka payuangpanjikasarugo” explains that women in the family are responsible for nurturing the spiritual well-being of family members, guiding them to be closer to Allah SWT (Zakia, 2011).

Sociological Discourse Theory by Arthur Asa Berger

This research employs the sociological discourse theory by Arthur Asa Berger. The underlying assumption of this theory is that in society, there exists a division of tasks and functions, where each individual within the social structure holds a status and plays a specific role. The theory aims to identify signs within a text and interpret them to determine who is assigned a status and what role they fulfil in that particular text (Hamad, 2007).

Fundamentally, sociology was first proposed by the philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857), who believed that sociology is a science that integrates theory with practical knowledge about human beings. Comte’s goal for sociology was “to know in order to predict, and to predict in order to control.” In other words, Comte sought to discover the laws governing human society to establish rational and humane social order (Berger, 1991).

According to Berger (1991), sociology has given rise to many concepts that provide researchers with tools to analyse and uncover aspects that may have been overlooked previously. Several sociological concepts will be utilized and discussed to help answer the research questions:

  1. Ethnicity is conventionally understood as a group within society that possesses specific cultural and traditional characteristics that distinguish them from other societal groups.
  2. Bureaucracy is a collection of more or less anonymous individuals who follow rules and fixed routines in carrying out organizational tasks. Bureaucracy becomes necessary when society grows larger and more complex, making it difficult to manage and maintain efficiency in work. In a bureaucracy, there is typically a hierarchy of power, impersonal handling of issues, and numerous complex administrative procedures.
  3. Social roles are similar to roles in a drama. Roles refer to specific behaviours that we learn and are associated with people’s expectations of us. Roles are also influenced by specific situations and sometimes determined by our position in society. An individual can fulfil multiple roles in their daily life, such as being a parent, worker, companion, and so on.
  4. Status is often misunderstood as a role, but they are actually distinct concepts, although they are related. Status involves a person’s position within certain groups or organizations. Status is also associated with prestige related to that position and has a connection to one’s role. For example, within a company, a manager holds a higher status than an assistant manager and plays a different role. In his book, Berger (1991) explains that individuals in society generally have specific roles with high status, such as doctors, professors, lawyers, directors, and so on. On the other hand, there are those with low status, such as ditch diggers. Status or prestige, is a power within society used to subtly control others.


This research is a qualitative study that adopts a social constructivist approach. This approach seeks to study the everyday life experiences of individuals and argues that, as humans, we need to understand the personal reasons or motives that shape an individual’s internal feelings and guide their decision to act in certain ways (Newman, 2014). This paradigm, also often referred to as interpretive, explores the subjective meanings of experiences directed towards specific objects. These meanings are diverse and plentiful, directing researchers to explore the complexity of perspectives rather than narrowing down meanings into a few categories or ideas (Creswell, 2013).

The methodology to be used in this research is sociological discourse analysis, which aims to identify signs within a text and interpret them to determine who is assigned a status and role in the form of inter-individual relations (Hamad, 2007). In the development of this theory, Berger (1991) explains several concepts in sociology that can serve as tools in research. This study will utilize four concepts: ethnicity, bureaucracy, social roles, and status.

The data for this research was obtained from two sources: primary and secondary data. The primary data source was obtained through observation. Observation is a data collection technique that involves recording field phenomena resulting from the observer’s sensory capture, often using instruments, and recording them for scientific purposes (Angrosino, 2007 in Creswell, 2013). In this study, observation will be applied to films, specifically the films “Liam” and “Laila.” The secondary data source for this research was obtained through literature review of relevant books and previous journals.

This research utilizes data analysis techniques by Miles and Huberman (1994), which consistsof three activities: data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing/verification. Data reduction involves organizing and simplifying the data, as well as identifying relevant patterns and themes. Its purpose is to simplify the analysis and explore the core of the data. Data display involves visually or narratively presenting the results of the analysis, such as research reports, diagrams, graphs, or relevant quotations. The goal of data display is to clarify the research findings for easy understanding by readers or viewers. Conclusion drawing/verification is the stage of drawing conclusions from the data analysis and connecting them to the research questions or established objectives. These three activities aid in systematically and structurally processing and interpreting qualitative data.


In the film Liam and Laila, there are several elements that depict resistance to interracial marriage between Liam and Laila, specifically in terms of ethnicity and social roles. The researcher did not find the concept of bureaucracy in the resistance of the Mamak and BundoKanduang characters against the marriage of Liam and Laila. Instead, this concept is evident in the process of Liam converting to Islam and the procedures he undergoes at the Office of Religious Affairs (KUA) related to the required documents for marrying Laila.

1. Ethnicity

From an ethnicity perspective, Pian, Laila’s brother, visits the local Office of Religious Affairs (KUA) to seek assistance for Liam to convert to Islam. Mr. Ridwan, the KUA official responsible for this matter, refused to help Liam because he was a white foreigner. Mr. Ridwan is concerned about getting involved with a foreigner whose intentions for coming to Indonesia and embracing Islam are unclear. He fears potential issues in the future and refused to help Liam convert to Islam. This resistance arises because Liam is perceived as a foreigner with unknown intentions.

At 8:35 minutes into the film, there is a scene that shows BundoKanduang named Tek (aunt) Naizar, who rejects the marriage between Liam and Laila due to Liam’s foreigner status and non-Muslim religion. Although Jamil, as the Mamak (maternal uncle), has tried to explain Liam’s intention to convert to Islam, Tek Naizar remains firm in her refusal. In this scene, not only Jamil and Tek Naizar are present, but also Laila’s younger brother, Laila’s parents, as well as Laila’s uncle and aunt besides Tek Naizar. This scene serves as an example depicting that a marriage proposal received by a daughter within the family must be discussed among the extended family, not only between the child and the parents but also with the community (extended family). Here is the conversation from this scene:

  • Tek Naizar : It’s impossible for Laila to marry someone who is not of the same religion.
  • Jamil : But she has studied and intends to embrace Islam, you know.
  • Tek Naizar : Studying to find weaknesses in Islam, so he can enter the realm of Islam.After marriage, he will take our niece to who knows where. Is that what you want? Your education is high, you are working as a government official, but your analysis is short.

(in another cut scene).

  • Tek Naizar : What I’m saying is, that stranger is not allowed to enter this Rumah Gadang. He is not allowed into your house either. If I find out, all of you will no longer be my siblings. Jamil, do you understand?
  • Jamil : Yes, Aunty.

2. Social roles

At the 5:51 mark of the film, there is a scene that depicts the role of a Mamak named Jamil in protecting his niece. In this scene, besides Liam and Jamil, there are Laila, Laila’s mother and father, but Liam asks for permission to marry Laila to Jamil (Mamak), not Laila’s biological father. From this scene we learned that Mamak’s role is more dominant in determining Laila’s husband, despite her being his niece.

Here is the conversation from this scene:

  • Liam : I have two agendas. Firstly, I want to become a Muslim here. Secondly, we want to get married soon.
  • Jamil : Married? To Laila?
  • Liam : Yes
  • Jamil : Religion is not to be played with, young man.
  • Liam : Yes, I know. I met Laila on Facebook three years ago because at that time I was trying to learn about Islam, not looking for a partner.
  • Jamil : Many criminal cases start on social media.
  • Liam : That’s not me, Mr. Jamil. Now, please help me become a Muslim, and we can get married.
  • Jamil : It’s not that easy, young man.
  • Liam : Please, sir. I have prepared all the documents. There’s a letter that confirmed that I am without a criminal record, an official letter stating I’m not married, and you can check me online. But, sir, my visa is only for 30 days here.
  • Jamil : (looking serious) As a Muslim, I am obligated to help you embrace Islam. But, regarding marriage, in our country, it’s not that simple. I have to talk to the extended family first. After that, I will let you know.

Jamil plays a dominant role in determining a potential husband for Laila. Liam seeks permission to marry Laila from Jamil as the Mamak, rather than from Laila’s biological father. The dialogue in the scene at minute 5:51 highlights the significance of Mamak’s role in choosing a husband in Minangkabau culture.

The role of Jamil as a Mamak is also questioned by Liam to Laila. He wants to know why Jamil is more involved in managing all the process of Liam marrying Laila, rather than Laila’s parents directly. Laila explains that in Minangkabau customs, marriage is about uniting two large families. Therefore, as a family member, the uncle usually takes care of and prepares the wedding of his nieces, or the daughters in the family. Laila specifically mentions niece in English to Liam, leaving out nephew, which means, Mamak does not play that big of a role in the nephew marriage. Here is the conversation from the scene at minute 39:13.

  • Liam : Though I can’t help but wonder, why does Mr. Jamil always take care of everything? Are your parents not happy with all this?
  • Laila : No, no, no. It’s not like that at all. See, the fact of marriage in Minang is uniting two big families. So as part of the family, the uncle usually takes care of and prepares the wedding of the niece. But of course, this is also done with the blessing of the parents.

3. Status

The status of ‘BundoKanduang’ and ‘Mamak’ is also depicted in one of the scenes in the movie at minute 25:53. In this scene, a family meeting is taking place to discuss Laila’s marriage. Jamil, as the Mamak, and Pian, Laila’s younger brother, inform the extended family that they have investigated Liam’s character and assisted him in embracing Islam. Jamil also expresses that he has observed Liam’s sincerity in proposing to Laila. Here is a quote from the conversation at minute 25:52:

  • Jamil : It has been a week since me and Pian tried to find out who Liam is. We observed his sincerity while converting to Islam. In my opinion, it’s already evident that he is serious both about being Muslim and about our niece.

After Jamil delivered the news, the family seemed to agree to marry Laila to Liam, as indicated by the dialogue from one of Laila’s uncles, who is also the younger brother of Tek Naizar. He directed his words to Tek Naizar, the eldest sister in the family.

  • Laila’s Uncle : Sister, hearing Jamil’s explanation, I think it’s only right that we give our blessing for Laila’s marriage.

Upon hearing Uncle Laila’s words, Tek Naizar still did not approve of the marriage. Tek Naizar still felt that Liam, despite converting to Islam, could not be a strong enough basis for them to allow their niece to marry a stranger. Here is the conversation with Tek Naizar:

  • Tek Naizar : Jamil may be the smartest here. He could be an official in his office. But in this Rumah Gadang, as the eldest, I have the right to decide, before this matter is taken to the traditional leaders’ council. In my opinion, this cannot yet be the basis for making a decision because nowadays, many people are not afraid to make false oaths.

At minute 8:35, the scene portrays the conflict between Liam as a foreigner and Tek Naiza’s rejection of him at Rumah Gadang. Tek Naizar asserts a ban on foreigners entering and even to the extent of threatened all attending relatives if the rule is violated. This dialogue reflects a stereotypical views that Liam is only studying Islam to find weaknesses in the religion. At minute 25:53, the family holds a discussion about Laila’s marriage. Jamil informs the family that Liam has converted to Islam. Some family members agree with the marriage, but Tek Naizar continues to reject it due to Liam’s foreign status. She argues that Liam is only pretending to study Islam and will take Laila away after marriage. This scene highlights the need for discussions about marriage with the extended family and the importance of social status in accepting the union.


Ethnicity, viewed from the main elements of structural functional theory, sees Pian as Laila’s brother and Liam as a foreign national who wishes to marry a local girl, namely Laila. Pian, wanting to help his sister marry Liam, visits the local Office of Religious Affairs (KUA) in the hope of obtaining assistance to convert Liam to Islam. His visit is motivated by a desire to maintain family harmony and fulfil his social function as a responsible family member. In this context, Pian sees religious institutions as places that can provide guidance and support in fulfilling this role.

However, when Pian seeks assistance from Mr. Ridwan, an officer at the KUA, he experiences disappointment. Mr. Ridwan refuses to help and convert Liam, citing concerns about the danger and the unclear intentions of Liam as a foreigner. Mr. Ridwan refers to social norms regarding relationships with foreigners, religious conversion, and potential security threats.

Social norms prevalent in society can demand certain requirements before recognizing someone as a community member or allowing a change in religion. For instance, there is a tendency to request citizenship papers or other proof of identity before acknowledging someone as a community member or allowing a change in religion. These norms play a significant role in Mr. Ridwan’s attitude, referring to security and the uncertainty of Liam’s intentions as the basis for his refusal.

Ethnic tension arises in the rejection of Liam by Mr. Ridwan for his conversion. Liam’s existence as a white foreigner creates distrust and resistance to cultural and religious assimilation. This illustrates how ethnic and background differences can act as centrifugal factors influencing relationships in society.

From the concept of social roles, there are several figures with different social statuses but crucial roles. Liam, a foreign man, has a different social status as a potential husband for Laila. On the other hand, Jamil, who is a Mamak, has a dominant role in determining a husband for Laila. Laila’s parents also have a social status as her biological parents. Each character comes with different roles and social statuses within the family and the broader community.

Social functions are reflected in the roles played by each character in the film. Jamil, as the Mamak, has a vital function in preparing for his niece Laila’s wedding. Acting as a mediator between Liam and Laila’s extended family, Jamil performs his duty as an intermediary to ensure agreement between both sides. The Mamak’s role in Minangkabau tradition demonstrates how the system functions according to roles within the community, connecting two large families through marriage.

Social norms also play a significant role in the movie. When Liam expresses his intention to marry Laila to Jamil, Jamil’s response reflects social norms prevalent in society. Jamil expresses concerns related to religion, social media, and careful marriage considerations. This illustrates social norms governing religious values, marriage procedures, and prudence in making marriage decisions. Additionally, Laila explains the social norms of Minangkabau tradition governing the Mamak’s role in handling her niece’s marriage, demonstrating the strong influence of local customs and culture.

Jamil’s dominant role as the Mamak in choosing a husband for Laila highlights the importance of social structure and family authority in Minangkabau culture. Liam seeks permission to marry Laila from Jamil, disregarding the role of Laila’s biological father. This indicates a strong social hierarchy and the influence held by specific individuals in determining marriage relationships. These differences in social roles can be centrifugal factors if the Mamak’s decision is not recognized or does not align with the expectations of others.

In the concept of status, there is a significant difference in social status between Liam, a foreigner, and Laila’s family, who belong to the Minangkabau community. This difference is a key factor influencing the approval of marriage between Liam and Laila. Tek Naizar, as the BundoKanduang with a high position in the family, rejects the marriage because of perceived differences in social status and religious misalignment between Liam and Laila’s family. This underscores the importance of social status in determining approval for a marriage within the family.

On the other hand, social function also plays a crucial role in the scene. Jamil, as a Mamak, has a social function to help manage his niece’s marriage and mediate between Liam, Laila, and the extended family. In his role as the Mamak, Jamil tries to explain Liam’s intention to convert to Islam and address Tek Naizar’s objections to the marriage. Jamil’s social function as an intermediary and connector between Liam and Laila’s family reflects how the internal family structure works to maintain harmony and agreement in the context of marriage.

Furthermore, the social norms of Minangkabau tradition also play a significant role in the scene. Tek Naizar adheres to social norms that require approval from the extended family before deciding on marriage. She emphasizes that this issue needs to be brought to the elder, who also the traditional leaders, before making a decision, indicating the importance of social norms and consensus in making marriage decisions. The social norms of Minangkabau tradition underlying the scene reflect the cultural values and traditions highly esteemed in that society.

The conflict between Liam as a foreigner and Tek Naizar’s rejection reflects the role of social status in accepting marriage. Negative stereotypes about Liam as a foreigner and doubts about his motivations in converting to Islam show how perceptions of social status can influence relationships in society. Tek Naizar’s rejection based on Liam’s status as a foreigner creates division and disunity in the community.


From the data and analysis presented before, it can be observed that the interaction among characters, especially between Liam, Laila, and her families in the film “Liam and Laila”, depict the complexity present in society due to the interaction between social status, social function, and social norms. There is a conflict between individual expectations, such as Pian’s efforts to fulfil his social function as a family member and involve religious institutions, and the social norms held by others in society.

Differences in social status and social norms also impact the marriage process between Liam and Laila. Liam’s foreign citizenship status presents different administrative requirements, and social norms govern these requirements as a reference for the civil registry office officials in rejecting Liam’s application. The interaction between factors reflects the complexity in the marriage process involving different social and cultural aspects.

The film illustrates the complexity of social status, social function, and social norms in community life. Varied social statuses, roles played by each character, and social norms held by society reflect the intricate dynamics in the marriage process and social life. These factors interact and influence the story’s development and the relationships between characters in the film.

Overall, the film “Liam and Laila” depicts how factors such as ethnicity, bureaucracy, social roles, and social status can reinforce differences and resistance to interracial marriage. These factors create conflict, division, and disharmony in social relationships. Thus, the film provides an overview of the complexity in society that needs to be faced and understood.


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