Dissertation Abstracts

The public presentation of authority in Saudi Arabia during the 20th century: A discursive analysis of "The London Times" and "The New York Times"

Author: Abdullah F Alrebh, alrebhab@gvsu.edu
Department: Sociology
University: Michigan State University, United States
Supervisor: Toby Ten Eyck
Year of completion: 2014
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Authority , Max Weber , Saudi Arabia , Wahhabism
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Religion , History of Sociology


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently considered one of the most conservative countries in the world with regards to the role of religion in shaping both internal politics and international relations. This dissertation focuses on how The London Times and New York Times, two opinion-leading newspapers in their respective countries, have covered the issue of authority in Saudi Arabia from 1901 to 2005. The conceptual framework begins with Weber’s work on authority, and extends this work by drawing on both contemporary conceptualizations of authority and the history of Saudi Arabia. The methodological framework is based on articles drawn from newspaper archives, which help to develop an understanding of how the public in Britain and America were being told about politics and religion in Saudi Arabia. Given that Weber was basing his notions of authority on western societies, this project will offer a way to test Weber and his notions of authority structures in a non-Western setting over a hundred year time span. This will provide insights to determine if Weber’s three types of authority—traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal—are useful in studying the presentation of the Kingdom by the leading newspapers from countries considered to be the most important allies of the Saudi state.