Egypt is at the axis of the Arab world. With the largest population, the largest industrial economy and the longest tradition of modern political activity, it has profound influence across the region. But there have been few attempts to understand contemporary Egyptian society, in particular growing internal pressures for change and their implications for the Middle East and the wider world. This book is the first for over 20 years to comprehensively and accessibly examine contemporary issues in Egypt. It presents a series of analyses of politics, culture and society, including many by Egyptian academics and activists.It addresses the turmoil created by imposition of neo-liberal economic policies, the increasingly fragile nature of an authoritarian regime, the influence of movements for democratic opening and popular participation, and the impacts of Islamism. The authors argue that Egypt has entered a period of instability during which the 'low-intensity democracy' embraced by the Mubarak regime faces multiple challenges, including demands for radical change. The book assesses the ability of the state to resist the new movements and the latters' capacity to fulfill their aims and suggests that events in Egypt have implications across the Global South.