Research strength


Southeast Asia continues to witness transformations in politics, economics, culture, and society. Many of these shifts, which are driven by a combination of internal and transnational developments as well as shifts in technology are reflected in the region’s economic growth, rising living standards, impressive performance in broader human development indicators, expansion of political and civic spaces for citizen engagement, and greater economic and social interactions across Southeast Asia and with other parts of the world. There have also been important developments in literature, cinema and popular culture. Yet, amidst these progressive shifts are also signs of deep conflict and fragmentation, visible in the huge economic and social disparities in the region, suppression of political and civil rights, conflicts within and between states, security challenges, environmental degradation, cultural tensions, and clashes over value systems.

SASS scholars approach the study of social transformation from different theoretical angles drawn from these diverse disciplines and their analyses follow the broad range of methods used in the humanities and social sciences. Underpinning these scholarly enquiries is a critical and ethical attitude that seeks to link scholarship with praxis—making a difference to people and communities.

Towards this goal, SASS academics are actively networked through national and international research collaborations as well as through engaging NGOs, international organisations, industry, governments and communities. Our small but vibrant graduate student community is an integral part of SASS research. We believe that this multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to research is best suited to exploring, understanding and explaining the complex and dynamic social transformations in Southeast Asia.

Research Clusters

Currently, research on Social Transformation in the School is located within the following four research clusters:

  • Communication, Media and Policy
  • Culture, Religion and Gender
  • Literature, Cinema and Society
  • Politics, Development and Governance