Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Sage Graham

Committee Member

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Joseph Jones

Committee Member

Ronald Fuentes


The traditional view in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is the separation of men and women. Women in the KSA were not allowed to drive cars. On the 26th of September 2017, the King of Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving. This was a major change and a symbolic step for women as part of their quest to achieve visibility and social equality. This became a controversial topic that resulted in many discussions on social media platforms, one of them being Twitter. While existing research has examined (1) CMC, (2) Gendered Identities and (3) Saudi Culture, there is no research, to the best of my knowledge, that brings these areas together in a Saudi context. Specifically, through combining linguistic texts and multimodality features. The study examined identity construction on Twitter to determine how idealized identities were claimed, assigned, and negotiated in the context of culture with conservative views on gender roles and practices, and the strategies used by males and females to reposition and empower themselves in digital environments. This study focused on one case of a Twitter interaction of a Saudi male who posted a selfie showing his wife while teaching her how to drive. The Twitter post received many responses, some of which were negative. Tweets were qualitatively analyzed by using a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Interpersonal Pragmatic approaches. In the Twitter interactions, online users implicitly and/or explicitly claimed, assigned, challenged and/or negotiated different idealized identities to the original poster (OP), themselves and/or other users. These idealized identities are the ones that predominantly figure in the KSA culture: 1) the Ideal Muslim; 2) the Ideal Saudi National; 3) the Ideal Saudi Member of Society (Citizen). Idealized identities are markers of Saudi identity and people position themselves in interactions through discursive negotiations of identity construction. However, there were instances when users positioned themselves during an interaction, but they did not wish to engage in discursive negotiations and just declared their opinions. The strategies people used in online interactions to empower and/or reposition themselves and their viewpoints were through acts of (im)politeness via words and images.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest