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Title: Emerging socio-political representation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Author: Thompson, Mark Colin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 4650
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2012
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The aim of this study is to assess the extent to which the Saudi Arabia National Dialogue and activities of King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND) represent a viable attempt to address socio-political issues; whether the ongoing National Dialogue process accurately reflects the aspirations and concerns of contemporary Saudi society; what its impact on socio-political development may be; and how it relates to wider regime strategies and to the evolution of the Saudi polity. The thesis examines KACND’s institutions, practices and impacts, as well as Saudis’ perceptions of all these. It does so by embedding the analysis in a survey of the evolution of broader Saudi socio-political dynamics; drawing in particular on Gramsci, it asks whether the system is moving from a form of patrimonial state to one of ideological hegemony, and whether the KACND is a catalyst in this transition or may even be part of the apparatus that is driving this transition, including its indirect or unintended effects. To that end, the thesis examines the mutual relationship between KACND and the key Saudi social constituencies, with their attendant issues. In particular, it explores the extent to which the KACND’s activities directly and indirectly impact on internal cross-constituency communication and discourse in the Kingdom. The thesis explores the legitimisation of state-society dialogue in Saudi Arabia, focusing on the direct and indirect consequences of the National Dialogue process with reference to the role and activities of KACND. It examines the expanding activities of KACND, including the evolving range of issues discussed as part of the institution’s activities, and the scope of participants. It highlights the shift from ideology-based National Dialogue Meetings such as on national unity and women’s rights, to service-based National Dialogues such as on employment and health. It also examines the newly established Cultural Discourse and assesses the impact of this initiative as a space for ideological debate. The study is based on extensive fieldwork in Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2011, referencing information and official documentation not previously available, and drawing on findings from a wide range of focus groups, interviews, and participant observation with National Dialogue participants, KACND officials, government ministers, lawyers, journalists, scholars and members of minority constituencies
Supervisor: Nonneman, Gerd Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Saudia Arabia, National Dialogue, Socio-political participation, societal development, reform