Work and Alienation in the Platform Economy

Amazon and the Power of Organization

By Sarrah Kassem

Published

Apr 1, 2023

Page count

208 pages

ISBN

978-1529226546

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Apr 1, 2023

Page count

208 pages

ISBN

978-1529226560

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

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 labour 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.

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) Shopfloor at AMAZON

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 for and by MTurk workers

10. Alienation Across Amazon and the Platform Economy

11. The Power of Amazon and Platform Workers

12. Conclusion