There’s a ton of research in economic sociology that focuses on major upheavals to the American (and, to some extent, global) economy in the 1970s. Financialization is an obvious one, along with the decline of unions, increasing inequality especially concentrated in the top 1%, increases in the incarceration rate, the emergence of institutional investors as major players in the corporate world, the declining centrality of commercial banks, the death of the Bretton Woods system, the rise of neoliberalism, and so on. Trends big and small begin, or have sharp inflection points, in the 1970s. Obviously many of these trends are related – financialization is part of what drives the dramatic increase in top incomes, for example. But it’s hard to imagine that political economy is so integrated that all of the major upheavals from the 1950s-1990s happened in this one decade. So, my question for you all is.. what stayed the same in the 1970s? What trends persisted from the 1950s-1990s, or had major changes in other decades? What do we miss by periodizing the last 70ish years as 1945-1970, and 1970s-present?
For example, in the city of Detroit, population declines first occur in the 1950s – well before the riots of the 1960s – as the spread of cars leads to suburbanization (although I’m not sure how widespread that trend is across major cities in the US). This trend picks up in the 1960s and 1970s, but it’s going strong in the 1950s. What other trends are we missing by focusing so much on the shifts of the 1970s?