Accumulation Strategies, State Forms and Hegemonic Projects

  • Bob Jessop
Part of the Capital and Class book series (CAC)


Despite the burgeoning literature on the state in capitalist societies, we are still ill-equipped to deal with some fundamental theoretical problems. The search for solutions has often led Marxists quite properly to draw on non-Marxist concepts and approaches but this sometimes involves the risk of dissolving a distinctively Marxist analysis into a broadly pluralistic, eclectic account of the state.1 Among the more problematic issues in the field of state theory are the alleged ‘relative autonomy’ of the state, the sources of the class unity of state power, the periodisation of the state, its social bases, the precise nature of hegemony and its articulation with coercion, and the role of the nation-state in the changing world system. No doubt a much longer list could be compiled. But these issues alone are more than enough to occupy us in the present paper. I approach them through the more general topic of form analysis and its implications for the economic and political spheres of capitalist society. In particular I will argue that the value form and state form are indeterminate and must be complemented by strategies that impart some substantive coherence to what would otherwise remain formal unities. It is in this context that I will elaborate the concepts of ‘accumulation strategy’ and ‘hegemonic project’.2 Let us begin with the fundamental concept of any serious Marxist economic analysis by considering the implications of the value form.


State Form Accumulation Strategy State Apparatus Capitalist Society Capital Relation 
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  1. 3.
    The following comments on the value form are heavily indebted to two works: Elson, ed., 1979 (especially the article on ‘The Value Theory of Labour’ by Elson, pp. 115–180); and Itoh, 1980. Nonetheless, in compressing and simplifying their arguments for the current paper, I have modified their language and have introduced some differences of interpretation. For further discussion, the reader is urged to consult the above works.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    Gramsci argues that there is a world of difference between historically organic ideologies and ideologies that are ‘arbitrary, rationalistic, and willed’; the same argument can be applied to accumulation strategies. See Gramsci, 1971, pp. 376–377.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    On ‘export substitution,’ see Lipietz, 1982.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    The concept of ‘mode of mass integration’ was introduced by Joachim Hirsch: see Hirsch, 1978b.Google Scholar
  5. 23.
    On ‘force, fraud, and corruption’, see Gramsci, 1971, pp. 80, 95, and passim.Google Scholar
  6. 24.
    On the concept of ‘historical bloc’, see Gramsci, 1971, pp. 137, 168, 360, 366, 377, and 418.Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    On ‘authoritarian statism’, see Poulantzas, 1978, pp. 203–249.Google Scholar

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© The Conference of Socialist Economists 1991

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  • Bob Jessop

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