Amazon Shows Us the Many Faces of Worker Alienation and Resistance Today
Once again we find ourselves in moments of economic crisis. As we battle through inflation and rounds of devaluation, thousands of workers around the world have lost their livelihoods. Yet amidst this all, we have seen workers across the globe go on strike and protest. A manifestation of these inequalities of our world today can be seen in the platform economy with transnational players like Amazon, Google and Meta. This also includes platforms which have become a contemporary embodiment of precarity: gig platforms like Uber and its Uber Eats or Amazon Mechanical Turk.
In my book, I take a closer look at the workers who power the platform economy behind the interfaces to investigate more closely the different ways by which platforms alienate workers and how workers claim their agency and collectively organize.
Before diving into the world of workers, it is important to historicize and contextualize the platform economy in order to understand how it came about, how it developed, and how it can be redeveloped differently for a fairer working world. As with all developments, the platform economy did not develop in a vacuum, but has resulted from the coming together of […]
Turning farmland into real estates: Expulsionary development and the appropriation of space in Pakistan
What is especially interesting about the case of expulsionary urbanization in Pakistan is that it illustrates qualitatively distinct contemporaneous processes of dispossession and displacement. That is, processes of displacement and proletarianization have been largely decoupled. Capital is now primarily interested in appropriating spaces (land and nature) occupied by working people rather than securing their labor-power.
Public health rediscovers the health threatening character of capitalism
Specific analysis of how capitalism shapes the quality of living and working conditions – now termed the social determinants of health -- is now accumulating in the English-language public health literature. This is coming about because of the polycrises in employment security and wages, food insecurity and hunger, health and health care, housing, income and wealth inequality and environmental protection as a result of the acceptance of neo-liberal governance in many capitalist nations. The inability of even social democratic political parties to respond to these crises had led to increasing numbers of public health researchers endorsing Marx and Engels’s call for a rupture from capitalism towards a post-capitalist socialist society.
Radicalism, Trade Unions, and the Law: A Question of Strategy
It is not, therefore, straightforwardly advantageous for a union, such as the IWGB, to identify as one of their shorter term goals recognising their members as ‘workers’ entitled to rely on, and gain access to, the various rights, protections, and institutions, that form part of this legal framework, and which shape the pursuit, by traditional trade unions, of their objectives. While doing so may well help insulate their members from the various legal risks attendant on organisation and industrial action, it does so at the direct expense of exposing them to the very compulsions and incentives that have historically helped to de-radicalise trade unions over time.
Behind the Foxconn Uprising: “Gig Manufacturing” and the Politics of Social Reproduction
Put together, these factors create a dilemma for these workers: dire need of cash income keeps propelling rural parents, who make a significant portion of the workforce, to come to work at Foxconn; the family’s demand for caring and emotional labor, on the other hand, is pulling workers, especially mothers, back to the family. In the end, many of the workers end up turning this job a seasonal gig.