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"Major civil discontent and violence occurred in the Middle East, including the Iran–Iraq War, the Soviet–Afghan War, the 1982 Lebanon War, the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Bombing of Libya in 1986, and the First Intifada in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Islamism became a powerful political force in the 1980s and many terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda started."

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The 1980s refers to the period of and between 1980 and 1989. In the United Kingdom particularly, this decade is often referred to as "the Me decade" and "the Greed decade", reflecting the economic and social climate. In the United States and UK, "yuppie" entered the lexicon, referring to the well-publicized rise of a new middle class within the upper economic strata. College graduates in their late 20s/30s were entering the workplace in prestigious office professions, holding more purchasing power in trendy, luxurious goods.

It was also known as "the purple passage of the late 1980s". The Autumn of Nations led towards the withdrawal of Soviet troops at the conclusion of the Soviet-Afghan War, fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Cold War. The era was characterized by the blend of conservative family values alongside a period of increased telecommunications, shift towards liberal market economies and the new openness of perestroika and glasnost. This transitional passage also saw massive democratic revolutions such as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in China, the Czechoslovak velvet revolution, and the overthrow of the dictatorial regime in Romania and other communist Warsaw Pact states in Central and Eastern Europe. These changes continued to be felt in the 1990s and on into the 21st century.

The 1980s was also an era of tremendous population growth around the world, comparable only to the 1970s or 1990s to being among the largest in human history. This growth occurred not only in developing regions but also developed western nations, where many newborns were the offspring of the largely populated Baby Boomers.


Popular culture

The most prominent events and trends in popular culture of the decade include:


See also timeline of musical events#1980s

The decade saw the emergence of new wave, electronic music (e.g., synthpop) the use of the synthesizer, and the introduction of hip hop and sampling.

The decade began with a backlash against disco music and a movement away from the orchestral arrangements that had characterized much of the music of the 1970s. Music in the 1980s was characterized by electronic sounds accomplished through the use of synthesizers and keyboards, along with drum machines. The music channel MTV began the trend of the music video. The first video to be aired on MTV was Buggles's "Video Killed The Radio Star".

The 1980s saw two new developments, the demise of disco the rise of electronic dance music.

By the late 1970s many major US cities had thriving disco club scenes which were centered around discothèques, nightclubs, and private loft parties where DJs would play disco hits through powerful PA systems for the dancers. Some of the most prestigious clubs had elaborate lighting systems that throbbed to the beat of the music.

The largest world cities like New York (Paradise Garage, The Loft), Manchester (The Haçienda), Paris (Les Bains Douches), Ibiza (Pacha), Antwerp (Ancienne Belgique) played a significant role in the evolution of clubbing, DJ culture and nightlife.

New genres included New Wave, Synthpop, Hip Hop, House, Acid House, Techno, Rave, Freestyle, Electro, Eurodisco, Italo Disco, Hi-NRG, Balearic, jazz-funk, post-disco, Northern soul and 80s groove



The majority of Hollywood movies in this decade were made for mass audiences. The 1980s tended to consolidate the gains made in the seventies rather than to initiate any new trends equal to the large number of disaster and buddy films that characterized the previous decade.

This was the period when the 'high concept' films were introduced. The movies were supposed to be easily marketable and understandable, and, therefore, they had short cinematic plots that could be summarized in one or two sentences. The modern Hollywood blockbuster is the most popular film from the 1980s. The one who was credited with the creation of the high-concept picture of the modern Hollywood blockbuster was the producer Don Simpson.


The very popular British Soap Opera Eastenders aired for the first time on BBC1 on 19 February 1985.

The 1980s was the decade of transformation in television. Cable television became more accessible and therefore, more popular. By the middle of the decade, almost 70% of the American population had cable television and over 85% were paying for cable services such as HBO or Showtime.

The 1980s was also the period of glory for primetime soap operas such as Dallas and Dynasty.

The popular animated sitcom The Simpsons debuted in 1989. There were also the TV talk shows that were increasing in popularity and some of the most viewed were the ones hosted by Geraldo Rivera or David Letterman.

Video gaming


  • The kitsch of the 1970s, while itself rejected, influenced the fashion of the 1980s – in the beginning of the decade marked by the New Romantic movement and later by fashion inspired by heavy metal bands, including teased hair, ripped jeans and neon clothing.

Significant fashion trends of the 1980s include:


  • BMX bicycles gained popularity amongst the youth in the early 1980s.
  • The Yo-yo gained popularity amongst the youth in the beginning of the decade as well.
  • Fast food chain restaurants such as McDonald's and Burger King experienced a strong increase circulation.
  • Rubik's cube became a popular fad throughout the decade.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "1980s" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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