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Amazon and the co-option of neighbourhood social capital for profit maximisation

Amazon is now co-opting millions of households into their delivery chain, with what can be described as open stealth. If you are reading this, say in the UK or US, you probably work for Amazon. All of that without pay. 

I just heard my door bell ring minutes ago (I happen to be working from home). And just as I thought, it was the amazon delivery man. He was asking if I could take delivery for my next door neighbour. I couldn’t possibly say no. My next door neighbour is practically family, and of course I can take delivery on their behalf. We instinctively do this in the spirit of good neighbourliness, without much thought in actual fact. You also know they would do the same in your absence. Amazon does not register in the equation as such.

The thing is, this scenario has been re-enacted several times in my front door. Too numerous to count. Amazon is counting on- appropriating- the social capital of neighbourhoods for its own corporate, profit making ends. And it’s not about to share that profit. The trust, the relational capital, the norms of reciprocity that exists within neighbourhoods, are being co-opted by Amazon for more efficient service delivery. However, not only is the “good neighbour” like myself excluding from sharing the profit at a personal level, Amazon does not seem to be fulfilling its basic obligations by paying commensurate tax to the public treasury. Yet, without the public infrastructures and institutions- for example well defined property rights- that are provided in developed countries, Amazon could not possibly have the opportunity to make so much profit (another delivery arrived as I type this!). If you disagree, ask why Amazon is not trying out this model in Agege Lagos!

I was in the middle of a report when the Amazon delivery came (had to answer as I don’t know what it was and how important it may be, or so I told myself). Then I thought to post something about it. In between, another delivery came. When I get back to my desk now, I will need a few minutes to reset and get back in the flow. Amazon is not paying me for my time, mind.

Do you have any personal experience to share. Please the short survey in this link. The survey should not take up to 10 minutes to complete. I’m currently conducting a research on this and would appreciate any additional comments and feedbacks on your personal experience with Amazon in the neighbourhood.

Seun Kolade

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