Religious and Political Authority in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Manas Journal of Social Science 6 (02):241-257 (2017)
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Alfred Stepan’s “twin-tolerations” thesis (2000) is a model for explaining different ways that religious and political authority come to be reconciled. In this paper, we investigate some obstacles and challenges to realizing a reconciliation between religious and political authority in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) that might result in a transition away from a theocratic monarchy to a more consultative form of political authority. Whereas most analyses of religion and politics in KSA focus on geopolitics, the rentier state model, or economic and military aid from the United States, we also consider local factors that emphasize the agency of political and non-political actors within KSA, focusing in particular on education policy and how this policy is a barrier to political reform. Our position is not meant to replace the standard models, but rather to supplement them by offering a multi-variable perspective on the challenges and prospects for meaningful political reform in KSA.

Author's Profile

Jon Mahoney
Kansas State University


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