Glocal conservatism: How marketing articulated a neotraditional saudi arabian society during the first oil boom, c. 1974-1984 Academic Article uri icon


  • Observers of Saudi society have often expressed bewilderment toward seemingly growing contradictions between “old” and “new,” “tradition” and “modernity,” “authentic” and “foreign,” or “Islamic” and “non-Islamic” in an age of mass consumption. Glocal conservatism in marketing decoupled such conceived binary oppositions, and therefore, the insurmountable tensions they implied. A unique mélange of global and local marketing practices facilitated new consumption patterns and social stratification based on consumption in the making of a Saudi mass consumer society. Glocal conservatism in marketing was encouraged through state discourse and Five-Year Plans; consumers’; selective participation in markets; and self-motivated or self-regulated enterprises. It further enhanced an existing sociocultural order, identity and ideal, as well as local governance. This article studies this critical phase in the remaking of Saudi Arabia using contemporary business press; literature on “doing business”; academic writings on local marketing; Philip Morris’;—a tobacco multinational—records; and by analyzing ads from Okaz, a Saudi daily.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011