Publication Details

Lyons-Lee, LT, The ‘Graduate Woman’ Phenomenon: Changing Constructions of the Family in Singapore, Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 1998, 13(2), 1-19. Original journal available here.


The central role of the family in state discourses of social change has been well documented in the case of Singapore. Within this discourse, the state has sought to strengthen the family as a key social structure and, while relegating the family to the realm of the ‘private”, has sought simultaneously to construct its own vision of family life. Women occupy a central role in this discourse of ‘state fatherhood” - they are both the mothers of the nation and the imparters of core cultural and national values. In recent years, in an attempt to address a perceived rejection of these values, state policies have targeted marriage and childbirth rates amongst the ‘at risk” group - graduate women. This paper discusses the discourse on marriage and procreation in the “Great Marriage Debate”, and presents some findings of a research project on how graduate women perceive marriage and motherhood and the range of pro-marriage strategies targeted at them.