THIS STUDY generally concerns the problems of contemporary change in a traditional society. Specifically it deals with modernisation among the Iban of Sarawak. Modernisation is used here to designate an evolutionary process of adaptation in the Iban's basic social-cultural structures, patterns of behaviour and conceptual world. The study is the results of three months survey research among 684 Iban from three geographical areas. The three groups are: (a) inhabitants of the long-houses in the riverine district of Lubok Antu in the interior of Sarawak, near the Kalimantan border, (b) people in the long-houses along the Paku Road, in the south-west region, and (c) the urban dwellers in the fringe Iban villages outside Kuching, the capital of Sarawak.
The Iban as a cultural group in the multi-cultural nation of Malaysia are changing their successful traditional adaptation to Sarawak environments. Changes in Iban society are rapid with the in-roads of political and economic modernisation. On the other hand, there has been differential transformation within Iban society because of relative exposure to agents of change. The three groups studied here, represent in some degree, these difference a within Iban society. Their proximity to the centres of change also reflect the levels of adaptation to modern demands of change as a result of the effects of historical processes on the social, cultural and physical environments. Before the advent of Western influence, the Iban were a culturally homogenous group, but with the complexities of contemporary changes, they have been transformed into sub-groups. The processes involved in this transformation are examined in this study.