Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-21-2018


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Dr. Erik Garrett

Committee Member

Dr. Janie M Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Dr. Pat Arneson


Habermas, Public Sphere, Hoexter, Religious Public Sphere, Identity Negotiation, Saudi Women, Royal Decrees, Vision 2030, Vernacular Discourse, Saudi Arabia, Sociatal religious Shifts, Saudi Women workforce, Saudi History, Economy, Religion, Gender, Ting Toomey, Journiette, Druckman


Historically, Saudi Arabian culture has been deeply rooted in tradition, religious customs, family-oriented structures, and gender derived expectations for men and women alike. Saudi Arabian culture emphasizes a patriarchal family structure where men financially provide for their family whereas women are expected to manage internal household duties such as raising children, upholding household affairs, and working within a limited scope of employment. The concept of Saudi Arabian women integrating into the public workforce has been a source of contention and debate for the last several hundred years. Due to recent changes in political and economic events, a royal decree issued in 2011 enforced by the Ministry of Labor has created new opportunities for women to enter into the public workforce within a myriad of employment venues. Through developments such as these, women have been granted greater access to what Jürgen Habermas has referred to as the “public sphere,” which was previously exclusive to male members of society. In addition, deviations in cultural norms consequently begs the question of how Saudi Arabian women perceive themselves in the workforce, society, within a religious context, and if legislative changes have impacted their personal identity within Saudi Arabian culture. The Identity Negotiation Theory (INT), in conjunction with the idea of the Public Sphere, is leveraged to understand how recent changes in the Saudi legislature promoting the inclusion of women in a variety of spaces has shaped this culture’s perception of intrapersonal and interpersonal identity, and ultimately of the culture itself.