From the vantage point of the United States or Western Europe, the
1970s was a time of troubles: economic “stagflation,” political
scandal, and global turmoil. Yet from an international perspective it
was a seminal decade, one that brought the reintegration of the world
after the great divisions of the mid-twentieth century. It was the
1970s that introduced the world to the phenomenon of “globalization,”
as networks of interdependence bound peoples and societies in new and
The 1970s saw the breakdown of the postwar economic order and
the advent of floating currencies and free capital movements. Non-state
actors rose to prominence while the authority of the superpowers
diminished. Transnational issues such as environmental protection,
population control, and human rights attracted unprecedented attention.
The decade transformed international politics, ending the era of
bipolarity and launching two great revolutions that would have
repercussions in the twenty-first century: the Iranian theocratic
revolution and the Chinese market revolution.
The Shock of the Global examines the large-scale structural
upheaval of the 1970s by transcending the standard frameworks of
national borders and superpower relations. It reveals for the first
time an international system in the throes of enduring transformations.