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 historical and theoretical perspective of the Social Structure of Accumulation (SSA) theory. The SSA’s 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 analytical tools and has been influenced by a range of political economic theories including institutional economics, the Marxian tradition, the Keynesian school, and long-wave theories.
Using recent publications by key figures in this school of thought, I situate the SSA theory within its historical, spatial, and theoretical background. 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.