This book addresses two important matters of current concern to Middle East scholars: firstly, the nature of the Egyptian state and society and the interactive process between them and secondly, how change, which would finally lead to development, can be initiated. The book argues that the Egyptian case represents a weak authoritarian state, which through its coercive and repressive policies towards various societal forces, political parties, professional associations and organisations and individuals, creates a weak society. Individual behaviour in urban and rural communities, sometimes viewed as signs of the strength of societal forces, is seen here as a symptom of a weak and fragmented society. The existence of a weak society in turn impedes government objectives and hinders the implementation of developmental policies and programmes, further weakening the state. This being the case, change has to be initiated externally in both the political and economic spheres.
Dr Ninette Fahmy is a lecturer of Public Administration and Local Government at Sadat Academy for Management Sciences, and has taught Middle East politics in several other universities in Cairo as well as at the University of Exeter. She was Winner of the 2000/2001 Fulbright teaching and research award. Her current research interest is on the human rights of minority groups in the Middle East. She has published widely in both English and Arabic.