Amazon and the new global connective architectures of education governance

Ben Williamson, Kalervo N. Gulson, Carlo Perrotta, Kevin Witzenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In this analytical essay, part of Harvard Educational Review’s symposium on Platform Studies in Education, Ben Williamson, Kalervo N. Gulson, Carlo Perrotta, and Kevin Witzenberger argue that global technology companies have begun acting as governance organizations in education. Their analysis focuses on the global technology company Amazon, which has begun penetrating education through a connective architecture of digital infrastructure and platform services. Looking at Amazon technical documentation and publicly available materials, the authors identify and examine five interlocking governance operations and their effects: inscribing commercial business models on the education sector, habituating educational users to Amazon technologies, creating new interfaces with educational institutions, platforming third-party education providers on the cloud, and seeking market dominance over provision and control of key information infrastructures of education. In showing how Amazon is potentially developing infrastructural dominance in the education sector as part of its transformation into a statelike corporation with significant social, technical, economic, and political power to govern and control state and public services, this article highlights the broader implications of increasing technological governance in education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-256
Number of pages26
JournalHarvard Educational Review
Volume92
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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