This chapter addresses three issues: the general nature of periodisation; alternative criteria for periodising capitalism; and the contradictions of Atlantic Fordism and after-Fordist economies. My analysis rests on a 'strategic-relational' approach. Emphasising the interplay of structure and strategy, this implies that, within broad limits set by the abstract logic of capitalism, its structural contradictions and its strategic dilemmas, capitalist development is nonetheless open. Particular trajectories and sequences of capitalist development are always mediated and transformed through specific social forces acting in specific institutional contexts or conjunctures. This openness invalidates attempts to periodise capitalism's past development or predict its destiny as if these were connected by a pregiven logic. But it does not mean that the succession of stages (or phases) is purely accidental. My task below is to explore the contingent necessities of capitalist development.