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Refractive Governance and Regulatory Risk Shift in Online Marketplaces

Hall of Languages, 421

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Moira Weigel (Northwestern University, Data & Society)

In this talk I will share new empirical findings and conceptual frameworks from an ongoing qualitative study of Amazon’s third-party marketplace. My study is grounded in semi-structured interviews conducted in English and Mandarin with third-party merchants who use Amazon’s services to sell goods to customers in the United States; the merchants themselves are located in the US and Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore (n = 46). Drawing on their accounts, I will first offer a broad overview of Amazon’s retail platform. Then, I will develop the concepts of “refractive governance” and “regulatory risk shift.” The first concerns how Amazon “tracks things to train people.” The second describes how the automated systems that Amazon uses to self-regulate produce new kinds of computer-mediated risk and push them outward.


Research Support


Lectures and Seminars



Open to


Students, Graduate and Professional


MAX-Public Administration and International Affairs


Johannes Himmelreich


Contact Johannes Himmelreich to request accommodations