Policy Press

Work and Alienation in the Platform Economy

Amazon and the Power of Organization

By Sarrah Kassem

Published

Mar 12, 2024

Page count

222 pages

ISBN

978-1529226553

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Feb 28, 2023

Page count

222 pages

ISBN

978-1529226546

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Feb 28, 2023

Page count

222 pages

ISBN

978-1529226560

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Feb 28, 2023

Page count

222 pages

ISBN

978-1529226560

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press
Work and Alienation in the Platform Economy

Once hidden behind the veils of entrepreneurship, it is now clear that platforms are reshaping the world of work, and Amazon has been a forerunner in setting the trend.

This book examines two key and contrasting Amazon platforms that differ in how they organize workers: its e-commerce platform and digital labor platform (Mechanical Turk). With access to the people who are working at the heart of these platforms, it explores how different working conditions alienate workers, and how, despite these conditions, workers organize within their political-economic contexts to express their agency in traditional and alternative ways.

Written for social scientists studying and researching the platform economy, this is a timely and important analysis of work and workers on the (digital) shop floor.

“A must-read for everyone interested in understanding how workers, and worker struggles, will come to shape the future of the platform economy.” Mark Graham, University of Oxford

"Kassem’s work is exceptional, revealing insights into the power of worker organising in the face of megalithic corporate power. It will stand the test of time." Phoebe V. Moore, University of Essex

“Work and Alienation in the Platform Economy makes a fundamental contribution to understanding of changing work conditions and possibilities for solidarity under those conditions. Sarrah Kassem puts contemporary platform work and workers in a much needed theoretical and historical perspective, and her intersectional analysis on collective worker agency is especially necessary in this moment. This book is an important and impressive achievement.” Veena Dubal, University of California

Sarrah Kassem is Lecturer and Research Associate in Political Economy at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Tübingen.

1. Introduction

Part 1: Examining The World of Work and Workers

2. How to Study Alienation: Marx’s Four Relations

3. How to Grasp Agency: The Power Resources Approach

Part 2: The Birth and Growth of Platforms

4. Historicizing Three Generations of Platforms

5. Contextualizing Amazon’s Growing Empire

Part 3: Workers on the (Digital) Amazon Shop Floor

6. Cog in the Machine: Working the Amazon Circulation Line

7. “I Am Not a Robot”: (Trans)national Labour Organization at the Warehouses

8. “Artificial Artificial Intelligence”: Gigging on Amazon Mechanical Turk

9. Instrumentalizing Technology: Digital Solidarity with and among MTurk Workers

10. Alienation Across Amazon and the Platform Economy

11. The Power of Amazon Workers and Platform Workers

12. Conclusion