The Social Structure of Accumulation

As Robert Cox once noted, every theory has a perspective, which is derived from a position in social and political time and space. In this paper, I explore the perspective of the Social Structure of Accumulation (SSA) theory. I review the social, political, and economic conditions that influenced its emergence, development, and application. The SSA is a relatively young, heterodox school of economic thought, emerging in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. Its main research goal is to analyse the long-term patterns of accumulation in the capitalist system. It assesses various economic, political, and institutional factors that influence the recurring periods of prosperity and crisis in contemporary capitalism. The SSA critically incorporates a variety of economic, sociological, and political theories and analytical tools. It has been influenced by a range of political economic theories including institutional economics, Marxian economics, Keynesian school, and long-wave theories. Its analyses centre on the role and development of economic, political, ideological, and cultural institutions.


Using recent publications by key figures in this school of thought, I situate the SSA theory within its historical, spatial, and theoretical background.  I demonstrate that Cox’s view not only applies to the SSA theory but is also shared by SSA theorists, who apply it to the real-world economic phenomena. I offer a brief account of the application of the framework on two contemporary phenomena: the rise of China and the neoliberal global capitalism. These examples highlight the strong potentials of the SSA’s interdisciplinary, multifaceted approach in analysing economic cycles.


The full text of my article is available for free here (page 39).