International Journal of Middle East Studies



ARTICLES
Politics in the Arabian Peninsula

SHAPING THE SAUDI STATE: HUMAN AGENCY'S SHIFTING ROLE IN RENTIER-STATE FORMATION


Steffen Hertog a1
a1 Steffen Hertog is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton, N.J. 08544, and Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Durham, Durham DH1 3TU, United Kingdom; e-mail: shertog@gmx.de.

There are two established ways of recounting the emergence of the modern Gulf oil monarchies. The social scientific explanation describes anonymous structural forces, the “resource curse” of the “rentier state,” and how these have shaped politics and markets with their inexorable logic. The other narrative, of the popular history variety, offers romantic, personalized accounts of desert shaykhs, their whims, and the sudden riches of their families (complemented, in some less benevolent accounts, by tales of monumental corruption).



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