Building on the work of Bob Jessop, Jurgen Habermas, Nancy Fraser and others who have helped develop our theoretical understanding of various forms of crises (economic, political and social) that emerge within capitalism, this article proposes an integrative ontology of hegemony and crisis in capitalist societies. Specifically, it argues that there are three underlying structural imensions to any hegemonic formation, all of which must be preserved and maintained to avoid descent into crisis: capital accumulation, political legitimation and social reproduction.
At the same time, there exist structural contradictions both among and within each of these three dimensions that pose potential challenges to the maintenance of each and thus to the maintenance of hegemony overall.
The article uses Japan as a case study for exploring both how these three spheres of activity contributed to the maintenance of hegemony and how contradictions developed both internal to and in the intersections of these spheres, leading to crises of accumulation, legitimation, and social reproduction.
It does this first by examining the policies, institutions and practices developed in relation to the three spheres of capital accumulation, political legitimation, and social reproduction in order to effectively maintain conditions of hegemony in post-war Japan.
It then analyzes the contradictions that emerged within and among these three spheres, thus providing a partial explanation for the overlapping and multifaceted set of economic, political, and social crises that Japan has faced since the 1990s, which are understood in the context of the article as separate but inter-related crises of accumulation, legitimation, and social reproduction.