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Uncharted Territory

自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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アマゾンがアメリカを変えている

 


映画ノマドランドに興味を持ったのは、この本Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click Americaを読み始めたから。



この本はよくあるアマゾンの労働現場の窮状を告発するだけにとどまりません。もうすこし大きな視点でアマゾンがアメリカのあり方そのものを変えつつあることを描き出そうとしています。そのあたりの説明をニューヨークタイムズの書評がしています。この書評でノマドランドも紹介されていて映画にも興味を持ちました。映画の予告編で登場していた倉庫はアマゾンが想定されているようです。

By Jennifer Szalai March 10, 2021

If you’re looking for a book that parses the inner workings of Amazon, “Fulfillment” isn’t it. There’s little here about the company that’s new. Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store” (2013) still stands as an in-depth (and irreverent) history of Amazon; Jessica Bruder’s “Nomadland” (2017) and Emily Guendelsberger’s “On the Clock” (2019) offer more detail about the actual experience of working in one of the company’s cavernous warehouses — or “fulfillment centers,” in Amazon’s preferred parlance, where employees can walk up to 15 miles during a single shift and vending machines dispense free painkillers.

MacGillis has set out to do something different. The Amazon depicted in “Fulfillment” is both a cause and a metaphor. It’s an actual engine behind the regional inequality that has made parts of the United States “incomprehensible to one another,” he writes, stymieing a sense of national solidarity. And not just because most of the jobs Amazon has created don’t pay much, though that’s certainly part of it. The company also exacerbates economic concentration, funneling money into wealthier parts of the country, like Seattle and Washington, D.C. The result is galloping prosperity for some Americans and unrelenting precarity for others.



この本でもアマゾンで働く大変さを痛感できますが、ワシントンポストの書評は冷静にアマゾンにだけ責任を押し付けてしまうことを戒めています。上の動画なんか地元自治体はアマゾン倉庫を歓迎していますよね。また、2日以内では配達されるサービスを大半の顧客が望んでいる以上倉庫内の業務も効率性を追求せざるを得ないのです。

By James Kwak March 19, 2021 at 9:00 p.m. GMT+9

“Fulfillment” are chilling, perhaps they are the natural consequence of working backward from — fulfilling — consumers’ desires. After all, we live in a capitalist society, and market capitalism is all about using customer preferences to govern economic activity.

Here’s one example. More than half of all U.S. households want two-day (or faster) shipping on an unlimited number of items for only $119 per year. To make that happen, Amazon needs to squeeze maximum efficiency out of its workers. Hence the limited bathroom breaks and the productivity algorithm. Businesses have always sought lower costs. What’s changed is that Amazon is really good at using technology to increase efficiency. Walmart has been punishing employees for “time theft” for decades. Amazon is just better at it.

安さを追求する消費者やアマゾンを誘致したりして優遇している政府にも責任があるとしています。書評には(Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)という注意書きがありますが、だからBezosの肩を持とうとしているのかわかりません。

In MacGillis’s portrait, Amazon could be following Henry Ford’s example by using some of its tens of billions of dollars in profit to increase its workers’ buying power and shore up the middle class. Instead, the company’s sole focus is enabling its customers to buy stuff cheaply and get it fast — and make money for its shareholders along the way.

Criticizing Amazon is easy. But a lot of politicians and people in high positions have helped the company as it has blossomed. “Fulfillment” is also the story of a political system captivated by the idea that what is good for Amazon is good for America. State and local governments have given away millions of dollars in tax breaks to attract fulfillment centers offering low-wage, high-turnover jobs. Local governments and federal agencies have abandoned some of their longtime local suppliers to comparison-shop in Amazon’s marketplace. 

どうしてもアマゾンを糾弾して終わりにしがちですが、WSJの書評は顧客がどのサービスを利用するか選べるのだから、時代の流れが買い物のあり方を今後変えるかもしれないとして書評を締めています。

Amazon’s breakneck expansion has left much social wreckage in its wake. But it wasn’t the first retailer to do so, and it won’t be the last.
By Marc Levinson March 7, 2021 5:31 pm ET

Walmart, whose online operations were once the object of derision, now seems to be eating away at Amazon’s dominance of internet retailing, and several young e-commerce companies, such as Shopify, are helping third-party sellers avoid Amazon’s clutches. The one-click world looks less like a monopoly today than it did a few years ago. If competition grows more intense, it may well be that shoppers’ perceptions of corporate behavior will matter more as they decide which e-retailer to favor. Walmart, having discovered that low prices aren’t the only thing that matters to prospective customers, has devoted considerable attention in recent years to getting on the right side of public opinion. If “Fulfillment” is any indication, Amazon may need to follow suit.

Yutaも微力ながら気に入ったものなどはアマゾンではなく直接メーカーのサイトなどで買うようにしたいなとは思っていますが、書籍に関してはじゃあこれまでの取次支配がいいのかは疑問です。日本の出版社は電子書籍も及び腰ですし。。。

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