A Century of Shocks and Waves
This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, namely to offer an explanation for the timing, intensity, and content of regime waves during the twentieth century. The central argument is that abrupt hegemonic shocks—moments of sudden rise and decline of great powers—act as powerful catalysts for cross-border bursts of domestic reform. These intense geopolitical disruptions not only alter the global hierarchy of leading states but also shape the wave-like spread and retreat of democracy and its rivals. As a result, the volatile evolution of domestic regimes during the twentieth century has been closely linked to sudden tectonic shifts in the structure of global power. The remainder of the chapter defines the meaning of hegemonic shocks and how shocks lead to regime waves. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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