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Abstract

This paper aims at assessing how Saudi Arab young women use social media for negotiating and expressing their identity. Through in-depth interviews with a sample of seven Saudi females aged 20-26, the research revealed that the internet, with its protection of individual privacy, provided the participants a space to negotiate the boundaries imposed on them by cultural and societal rules. Participants employed several tactics of negotiation such as using nicknames, concealing their personal images and using first names only in order not to be identified by their family names. Using multiple accounts is also popular among participants. Without gatekeepers, the internet brings new ways of self-expression and identification among Saudi females, thus creating a safe space where female body, predominant in daily life, is non-existent and only thoughts count.

Note on the Author

Hala Asmina Guta (Ph.D. of Mass Communication from Ohio University, United States) is Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University. Her research interests include communication for social change, and the intersection of communication, culture, and identity. Her publications and conference presentations include papers on the role of media in peace building in societies emerging from conflict, and the role media and other cultural institutions play in social change and the construction of identity.

Magdalena Karolak (Ph.D. in Linguistics, University of Silesia, Poland) is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Zayed University, UAE. Her research interests include transformations of societies in the Arabian Gulf and Slavic and Romance linguistics. For the past 5 years she has been conducting fieldwork in Bahrain. Dr. Karolak has published journal articles and book chapters on the shifting gender relations, social media, culture and identity and political system transformations. She is the author of two monographs: "Social Media Wars: Sunni and Shia identity conflicts in the age of Web 2.0 and the Arab Spring" (Academica Press Ltd., 2014) and "The Past Tense in Polish and French: A Semantic Approach to Translation" (Peter Lang, 2013).

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