April 15th — Najwa Alzahrani: The Representation of Liberalism in Saudi Press Abstract

The Representation of Liberalism in Saudi Press


Issues of modernism and social reform are the subject of much debate and controversy in Saudi society. Within that debate a number of terms has been contested over decades. Among these terms is the term “əlibrælij’əh”, a loanword to Arabic based on the English word “liberalism”, which has been recently contested amongst two social groups: the conservatives and the progressives who hold a range of attitudes towards the concept. This debate has been carried out and widely reported in both the mass media and social media in Saudi Arabia and my research therefore aims to examine the use and development of the key term “əlibrælij’əh” in Saudi newspaper column articles .

In this talk, I will discuss the way the investigation of the construal of the keyword “əlibrælij’əh” can be tackled by combining more than one approach. This would include primarily combining Corpus Linguistics methods (Stubbs 2001) with Critical Discourse Analysis methods (Fairclough 2001, Wodak and Meyer 2009). The large corpus of newspapers texts should make it possible to examine how the “əlibrælij’əh” keyword is construed and used in various Saudi social contexts and how it relates to other relevant concepts that are used under the debate of modernism and social change. Critical Discourse Analysis, on the other hand, should permit a close examination of “əlibrælij’əh” use and an interpretation on the basis of the socio-political context in which it occurs.


Fairclough, N. 2001. Language and Power. Longman.

Stubbs, M. 2001. Words and phrases: Corpus studies of lexical semantics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Wodak, R. and Meyer, M. 2001. Methods of critical discourse studies. SAGE.