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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



This article explores the relationships between superstar firms, states, and labor during a period of sharp challenge to normal functioning of capitalist societies. My working definition of superstar firms includes firms that have amassed a formidable economic power in their home markets, but also hold a large amount of social, economic, and political influence in societies more generally. They are powerful enough to maneuver within the global capitalist field to side-step challenges from the state and labor as well as market competitors. This paper is focused on superstar firm Amazon in the United States and France during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. I find that governing practices affect Amazon workers through their state’s relationships to both firms and labor. Amazon workers in the U.S. have no strong ties to the firm, the state, nor the labor movement, while French workers have strong ties to labor unions and unions to the state, which ultimately informed the outcomes in each country. Similarly, I find that there can be variation even within nations, most apparent in the distinct behavior of U.S. (local) states. The U.S./France comparison illustrates that although both countries operate under neoliberal capitalist logics, each state’s relationship to firms and organized labor is significant in understanding the autonomy of Amazon, and by extension other superstar firms, from state control and labor challenges. It is with the rise of superstar firms and the variable power between superstar firms, state, and labor, that inequality is upheld, strengthened, and reinforced as normal within the system. Still, I hope that this work is lined with optimism in that there is a more just approach in managing superstar firms in an effort to delay or curb the harmful effects that workers or customers face.


First Advisor

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

Second Advisor

Brian Sargent

Third Advisor

Melissa Wooten