Division of Labor and Morphological Response

Evidence from Saudi Arabia
  • W. Parker Frisbie
  • Abdullah H. M. Al-Khalifah
Part of the The Springer Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analysis book series (PSDE)


An important criterion for evaluating scientific fields of inquiry is credibility of their theoretical explanations of empirical phenomena regardless of location or time of observation of these phenomena. A criticism of sociological human ecology, as well as sociology in general, is the circumscription of its research to American society (Guest 1984; Frisbie 1984; London 1987). Without doubt, the utility of human ecological (or any) theory depends upon its capability to inform and guide analyses in a wide range of national, cultural, and temporal settings. Hawley’s classic commentary (1950:Chapter 11, 1968, 1986) on differentiation and organizational structure constitutes a theoretical framework that appears sufficiently general to serve as a guide for research on societies representing a wide range of social conditions. The purpose of our analysis in this chapter is to examine the power of Hawley’s theoretical model to account for variation in the degree of the division of labor and morphological growth of social systems. Both of these factors are central elements in ecology’s universe of inquiry. We have chosen to apply Hawley’s theory to the study of Saudi Arabia. Besides its international prominence and the high geopolitical interest in the country that recent world events has generated, Saudi Arabia represents a crucial test of the generalizability of ecological theory. In many respects, Saudi society is so substantially different from American society that it seems unlikely that patterns found in the United States would emerge in this Middle Eastern nation.


Labor Force Saudi Arabia American Sociological Review Morphological Response Female Labor Force Participation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Parker Frisbie
    • 1
  • Abdullah H. M. Al-Khalifah
    • 2
  1. 1.Population Research CenterUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyImam Muhammad Ibn Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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