Paul Smith – Amazon: At the Intersection of Culture and Capital

Paul Smith – Amazon: At the Intersection of Culture and Capital


Amazon is everywhere. In our mailboxes, in delivery vans clogging our streets, in an increasing portion of our air traffic, in our grocery stores, on our televisions, in our smart home devices, and in the infrastructure powering many of the websites we visit. Amazon’s tendrils touch the majority of online retail transactions in the United States and in many other countries.

As Amazon changes the face of capitalist business, it is also changing global culture in multiple ways. This book brings together some of the most important analyses of Amazon’s pioneering business practices and how they intersect with and affect the components of everyday culture. Its contributors examine the political economy of Amazon’s platform, making the argument that it operates as an unregulated monopoly that is disruptive to the global economy and that its infrastructure and logistical operations increasingly alienate its workers and wreak many other social harms.

Our contributors outline the practices of resistance that have been employed by organizers ranging from Amazon employees to artists to digital piecemeal laborers working on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. They examine the broader cultural impact that Amazon has had, looking at things like Amazon Prime and the creation of unending consumption, the absorption of Whole Foods and its brand of ‘conscious capitalism,’ and the impact of Amazon Studios and Prime Video on everyday film and television viewing practices.

This book examines the broader environmental impacts that Amazon is having on the world, looking at the slow violence it incurs, its underwhelming Climate Pledge, and the regional impacts that its business practices have. Lastly, this book gathers together some important artistic responses to Amazon for the first time in an appendix that offers readers insight into other ways in which critics of the company are making their voices heard and attempting to move broader audiences into solidarity against Amazon.