"THANKS AMAZON FOR SCARRING ME FOR LIFE": WORKER BREAKDOWN AND THE DISRUPTION OF CARE AT AMAZON

  • Brendan Smith University of Toronto, Canada
Keywords: Amazon, Care, Breakdown, Labour, Management

Abstract

Infamous for their highly exploitative, algorithmically-managed labour regimes, Amazon fulfillment centers are sites of continual breakdown and disrepair for the bodies and minds of its workers. From a methodological approach via workers’ inquiry and content analysis, this paper aims to theoretically frame the effects (and affects) resulting from Amazon’s strategy of augmented despotism, which engenders new forms of domination mediated and augmented by digital tools. Through a content analysis of online video confessionals detailing the physical and mental experiences of worker burnout and breakdown, this paper aims to bring the voices of (ex)-workers at Amazon to the forefront of understanding Amazon’s integrated architectures of labour management, surveillance, and control. The focus of this content analysis will be on the experiences of “broken” Amazon workers interacting with Amazon’s technological media apparatus of augmented despotism, with a special focus on the company's virtual health clinic: Amazon Care. As worker confessionals on YouTube attest, Amazon Care is as much an architecture of managerial surveillance, control, and discipline as it is of “care.” While other wearable and trackable technologies haunt the Amazon worker during their shift, Amazon Care extends the company’s technological power beyond the confines of the fulfillment center. Drawing from political and technological theories of labour and care, this paper will look into how Amazon workers navigate (and often escape) the affective and embodied confines of Amazon's augmented despotism.

Published
2020-10-05
How to Cite
Smith, B. (2020). "THANKS AMAZON FOR SCARRING ME FOR LIFE": WORKER BREAKDOWN AND THE DISRUPTION OF CARE AT AMAZON. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2020. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2020i0.11333
Section
Papers S