The Cost of Free Shipping
Amazon in the Global Economy
'Amazon Capitalism' grows ever stronger. This book provides the answers on how to fight the company's terrifying omnipotence.
'One-click' instant consumerism and its immense variety of products has made Amazon a worldwide household name, with over 60% of US households subscribing to Amazon Prime. In turn, these subscribers are surveilled by the corporation. Amazon is also one of the world's largest logistics companies, resulting in weakened unions and lowered labor standards. The company has also become the largest provider of cloud-computing services and home surveillance systems, not to mention the ubiquitous Alexa.
With cutting-edge analyses, this book looks at the many dark facets of the corporation, including automation, surveillance, tech work, workers' struggles, algorithmic challenges, the disruption of local democracy and much more. The Cost of Free Shipping shows how Amazon represents a fundamental shift in global capitalism that we should name, interrogate and be primed to resist.
Jake Alimahomed-Wilson is Professor of Sociology at California State University, Long Beach. His research interests are in the areas of logistics, racism and labour, and workers' struggles. He is the author of Solidarity Forever? Race, Gender, and Unionism in the Ports of Southern California (Lexington Books, 2016), co-author of Getting the Goods: Ports, Labor, and the Logistics Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2008) and the editor of Choke Points (Pluto, 2018).
Ellen Reese is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside, and author of They Sat Cutback, We Say Fightback! and co-editor of Wages of Empire.
'A must-read for scholars and activists alike. This stellar collection of essays documents exploitation and resistance at Amazon across the globe' - Carolina Bank Muñoz, Tow Professor of Sociology, City University of New York
'This important and timely book on Amazon's global empire is a must read for those who are concerned about economic inequality, massive public surveillance, and the threat to worker rights and democracy around the world' - Kent Wong, Director, UCLA Labor Center
'Drawing on deep and wide-ranging scholarship, this compelling collection provides heartening evidence of push-back by communities and organised labour against Amazon. Essential reading.' - Kirsty Newsome, Professor of Employment Relations, Sheffield University
'More than a book about Amazon. It is about the transition in global capitalism and its implications not only for Amazon's workforce, but on the global working class' - Bill Fletcher, Jr., editor, globalafricanworker.com, author, trade unionist
'This brilliant compilation of essays shows us how, like Walmart before it, Amazon has risen to global dominance through shrewd use of technology, data systems and supply chains, and also by skirting and breaking laws' - Professor Stephanie Luce, School of Labor and Urban Studies, CUNY
Introduction: Interrogating Amazon Capitalism - Jake Alimahomed-Wilson (California State University, Long Beach), Juliann Allison (University of California, Riverside), and Ellen Reese (University of California, Riverside)
Part I: Amazon's Rise in Global Power
1. Amazon in Context - Kim Moody (University of Westminster)
2. Power Accrues to the Powerful: Amazon's Marketshare, Customer Surveillance, and Internet Dominance - Dana M. Williams (California State University, Chico)
3. Transnational Amazon: Labor Exploitation and the Rise of E-Commerce in South Asia - Jeb Sprague (University of California, Riverside) and Sreerekha Sathi (International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands)
Part II: Exploitation and Resistance Across Amazon's Global Empire
4. The Amazonification of Logistics: E-Commerce and the Struggle for the Last-Mile - Jake Alimahomed-Wilson (California State University, Long Beach)
5. Automation and the Surveillance-Driven Warehouse - Jason Struna (University of Puget Sound) and Ellen Reese (University of California, Riverside)
6. Gender, Race, and Warehouse Labor in the United States - Ellen Reese (University of California, Riverside)
7. A New Industrial Working Class? Challenges in Disrupting Amazon’s Fulfilment Process in Germany - Nantina Vgontzas (New York University)
8. A Struggle for Bodies and Souls: Amazon Management and Union Strategies in France and Italy - Francesco Massimo (Sciences Po Paris)
Part III: Communities Confronting the E-Commerce Giant
9. Company Town: What Happens to a City and its Democracy When Amazon Dominates? - Katie Wilson (General Secretary of the Transit Riders Union)
10. Lessons from New York City’s Struggle Against Amazon HQ2 in Long Island City - Steve Lang (LaGuardia Community College, CUNY) and Filip Stabrowski (LaGuardia Community College, CUNY)
11. What Happens When Amazon Comes to Town? Environmental Impacts, Local Economies and Resistance in Inland Southern California - Juliann Emmons Allison (University of California, Riverside)
12. Worker and Community Organizing to Challenge Amazon's Algorithmic Test - Sheheryar Kaoosji (Warehouse Worker Resource Center)
Part IV: Struggling to Win Against Amazon
13. Amazon Strikes in Germany and Europe: Seven years of Industrial Action, Challenges, and Strategies - Jorn Boewe and Johannes Schulten (Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany)
14. Bursting the Bubble: Emerging Tech Worker Movement at Amazon - Spencer Cox (University of Minnesota)
15. The CEO Has No Clothes: Worker Leadership and Amazon’s Failures During COVID-19 - Dania Rajendra (Athena)
16. Think Big: Organizing a Successful Amazon Workers’ Movement in the United States by Combining the Strengths of the Left and Organized Labor - Peter Olney and Rand Wilson (SEIU Local 888, Boston)
17. Amazonians United! – An Interview with DCH1 (Chicago) Amazonians United
Conclusion: Resisting Amazon Capitalism - Jake Alimahomed-Wilson (California State University) and Ellen Reese (University of California, Riverside)
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745341477
eBook ISBN: 9781786807526
135mm x 215mm