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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/18199

Title: Women , Family and The Discovery of Oil
Authors: Dr.Salwa Alkhateeb
Keywords: Marriage. Family. Social Change
Issue Date: 1998
Publisher: Marriage & Family Review, Vol. 27( 1/ 2 ). The Haworth Press. P.P. 167- 189
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to examine social changes in the Saudi family in general and women’s lives in particular, in response to the influx of wealth into the country. The data of this paper were collected through personal interviews and open ended questionnaires with 95 Saudi working women of different ages, family backgrounds, and level of education in Riyadh city, the capital of Saudi Arabia. This study describes the most important changes that have taken place in the Saudi family following the discovery of oil: its advantages and disadvantages in Saudi society. The advantages are a series of five year development plans to raise the standard of living of the population. Women have found a comfortable way of life, acquired education, and employment. At the same time, the sudden increase of wealth has brought with it some disadvantages: Saudi society has become a consumer oriented society. Women’s participation in public has become more restricted, and their economic contribution to the family has been reduced. Though conservative, Saudi society has seen several changes in the family. Some aspects of the family changed faster than others. Materialistic aspects, such as houses, furniture, clothes, food, domestic equipment, recreational devices, and brideprice, have moved faster than cultural aspects relating to gender and the sexual division of labor. Marriage is still highly valued in Saudi society by males and females alike. The restrictions over women's movements make Saudi women see marriage as their only area of freedom. Endogamous marriage which was dominant in pre oil Saudi society is declining. Nowadays, exogamy is more favored, particularly in urban areas. Arranged marriage is the most common type. The age of marriage has changed. While early marriages were common in pre oil Saudi society, the age at marriage has increased. The average age at marriage is eighteen to twenty two for Saudi women, and twenty four to twenty eight for Saudi men. The brideprice has dramatically increased. The average brideprice is thirty to fifty thousand Saudi Reyals. Sexual division of labor in Saudi society is more or less the same. Saudis have an unquestioned belief about the difference in male / female roles in the family. Men are expected to be the head, and the breadwinners, of the family, while women are expected to be mothers and housewives. One of the new phenomena in Saudi society is the widespread use of foreign domestic helpers. The concept of marital relations among young women has significantly changed. Many respondents emphasized that their relationship with their husbands was based on mutual respect and understanding. Man's economic authority is more or less the same. He is considered the breadwinner and holds all financial matters in his hands. The religious authority of the man has been partly transferred to schools and mosques. Because of the separation between home and work, the man has lost some of his social authority. Women have acquired more power in the domestic domain. They have more control over children, and are playing a significant role in communication between households. Some of the important sources of women's power in the Saudi family are woman's family status, wealth. These are considered more significant than female education and employment. Finally, it could be argued that the Saudi family is still a male dominated institution with the most important decisions made by men. Cultural norms, civil rules, juridical legislation strengthen men's authority in the family and society in general
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/18199
Appears in Collections:College of Arts

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