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Societal transformation, public opinion and Saudi youth: views from an academic elite

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Saudi socio-politics is being affected by societal transformation; one that is being driven by a potent combination of demographics, improved education, wider access to the Internet and burgeoning new media usage. Whilst Saudi government decision-making remains ‘top-down’, the dynamic within this approach has shifted as the top-down system incorporates a consultation process that includes newly established civil society institutions. Nonetheless, of particular significance in Saudi Arabia is growing public awareness, particularly amongst young educated Saudis, of the need for government accountability, transparency and best-practices.

This paper discusses the views of a group of young men who represent an academic elite. Saudi-related literature frequently centers on the status of Saudi women, but the perspective of young Saudi men is generally overlooked even though this constituency is going to be of critical importance to the Kingdom's future social and political stability. The author recognizes that this elite sample does not represent Saudi youth in its entirety, but the diversity of student backgrounds and access to their extended networks can act as a barometer of educated youth opinion regarding many of the pressing politico-economic and socio-cultural issues facing Saudi Arabia today.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of General Studies, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Publication date: September 3, 2017

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