STRUCTURE OF SOCIETY
Well into the postindependence period, tradition and traditional
values dominated social life. Established religious and tribal
practices found expression in the policies and personal style
of King Idris and his regime (see Independent Libya , ch. 1).
The discovery of oil, however, released social forces that the
traditional forms could not contain. In terms of both expectation
and way of life, the old order was permanently disturbed.
The various pressures of the colonial period, independence, and
the development of the oil industry did much to alter the bases
of urban society and to dissolve the tribal and village social
structure. In particular, as the cash economy spread into the
countryside, rural people were lured out of their traditional
groups and into the modern sector. Values, too, began to change
under the impact of new prosperity and the arrival of large numbers
of foreigners. Since 1969 the pace of change has greatly quickened.
Yet, for all the new wealth from petroleum and despite relentless
government-inspired efforts to remake Libyan society, the pace
of social change was slow, and the country remained one of the
most conservative in the Arab world.
Data as of 1987