Despite the ascension of the USA as the major power in international politics that created a large amount of interest in contemporary accounts of hegemony within international relations (IR), it was the emergence of hegemonic stability in the 1970s that was to dominate debate in the subsequent decades. Hegemonic stability theory became significant in understanding the workings of the international economy, and subsequently world politics as a whole. Yet it was the notion that US power and leadership was being eroded in the 1970s that actually popularized hegemonic stability theory. As I shall explain in this chapter, the power that the American state built up after the Second World War became a feature of the post-war environment in world politics. Yet it was the the fallout from the collapse of the dollar system, which had been constructed through the institutions created at the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, which led to the concern that the international economy would struggle if discussions centred on whether US power was actually now in sharp retreat.
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