Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Second Department


First Advisor

Robert Hislope

Second Advisor

Eshragh Motahar


international, hegemonic, dollar, global, geopolitics, bipolar, ideology, capitalism


The extreme economic growth of the Republic of China is neither a new phenomenon nor a topic that has not been extensively examined, however, how this convergence of economic power between the United States and rising China translates to potential political power is an important area of discussion. The US has been forced to face a tumultuous beginning to the 21st century. Characterized by unprecedented terrorist attacks, subsequent wars that have brought economic and moralistic costs, increasing domestic partisan division, and a questioning of what it is to be an American, it is an unthinkable reality following the 1991 downfall of the Soviet Union, and a perceived new era of American exceptionalism.

No longer can the US act with impunity around the world, using its relative wealth and influence to project its opinions and desires to any country it deems to be acting contrary to its interests. China, in many measurements, is now an economically more powerful country than the US, with a population more than four times the size, and a unity and purpose surrounding the Chinese Communist Party government. In economic and demographic measures then, it may seem that China has the advantage. However, does this economic capital translate into the hegemonic role the US has occupied since the end of the Second World War?

This thesis uses historical interpretations, political and economic theories, as well as economic regression and analysis, to make a judgment on the traditional portrayal of the US as a hegemonic power, and the potential usurpation of this role by a resurgent China. The paper finds an important relationship between Chinese GDP growth and trade, relative to the US, and discusses the integration of both the US and China within international institutions made in the image of the West. Moreover, there is an exploration of different interpretations of hegemony, as well as an assessment of hegemony in the 21st century. This includes a debate on likely future scenarios surrounding both countries and the international landscape, before making a conclusion on how hegemony can be judged in the present day, involving the US and China as semi-hegemonic powers, potentially limited by a hegemonic system now outside of their control.

Wilcox - Economics Honors Thesis Presentation.pdf (537 kB)
Economics Honors Thesis Poster



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