Christopher Fan on Silicon Valley

In this narrative progression from marginalized identity to predominant position of power, we find the nucleus of Silicon Valley’s mythology: Nerds win. Yet what this mythology has been very good at obscuring, through ritualistic repetition of the revenge narratives of white, male founders, is how deeply racialized the narrative is. Not all nerds are entitled to equal portions of revenge.

There’s not enough resentment toward Silicon Valley. I say that while acknowledging the dripping anger that pervades everyday life in the Bay Area. This was at its most visible during last year’s massive protests against the Google Bus—a metonym for the extensive network of imposing, privately chartered buses that use public stops to pick up and transport tech workers 40-some miles from San Francisco to their offices on the peninsula. These tensions have arisen in response to skyrocketing housing prices and community displacement—both direct consequences of the influx of Silicon Valley money and the regulatory capture of local governments. Some San Franciscans do not wish to live in a suburb of Palo Alto.

From: “Not All Nerds” by Christopher Fan in the new California-themed issue of The New Inquiry (subscribe)

Silicon Valley Green Economic Development

BELOW, you will find our preliminary organizing principles and research questions into the project on the Silicon Valley green economy. CLICK here for more information about this project at the Center for Community Innovation and the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley.


* Research Questions

* Bibliography

* Webography


aaronwilcher AT gmail DOT com (Aaron Wilcher, MCP student researcher)

smontero AT berkekey DOT edu (Sergio Montero, MCP student researcher)

Research Questions: Silicon Valley’s Economic History and Innovation Assets

Social Networks (see Saxenian, Castells, Rhee, and Joint Ventures annual reports)
–leadership organizations and associations (Joint Ventures, SV Leadership Group [formerly Manufacturing Group]), American Leadership Forum
–industry associations (see Saxenian, 1994)
–neighborhood associations
–community organizing groups (People Acting in Community Together PACT)
–labor groups: South Bay Labor Council and Working Partnerships
–nonprofit and volunteer associations

* Industrial Development (Saxenian, 2 books; see also Walker, Rhee, and Benner; Castells, Pincetl)
–How did flex-spec evolve and diversify? Where does the Valley stand in relation to broader national and international materialist developments in industrial production practices: social networks, spinoffs, flexible employment? With what cities does it share economic-industrial development practices? (see O’Mara’s current work: Bangalore, Shenzhen, Silicon Valley)

Labor Markets (see Benner, Zlolniski, Pitti, Alarcon, and Saxenian)
–evolution of flex spec and polarized income-wealth distribution
–migration patterns international and domestic-regional
–visa labor markets and illicit markets
–industrial relations: while high tech emerged unorganized, Working Partnerships has led some innovative policy initiatives and been a power broker in the Valley

Geographic Factors (Spatial Political Economy) (see O’Mara, Matthews, Winner, Findlay, Pitti, Trounstein and Christensen, Rhee, esp. Ch. 4; in general, see Pincetl; see land use reports from the SVLG and Joint Ventures annual reports)
–Political economy of land use
–Stanford’s networks and the political economy of “cities of knowledge”
–in the context of the rise of the Sunbelt
–evolution of economic development factors
–Identify political regimes and their impact on land use and economic development (see especially Trounstein and Christensen; Rhee, Walker 2002, O’Mara)

Economic Development and Regulatory Contexts (Pincetl, Saxenian, O’Mara)
–crossover with political economy of landuse and development, but specifically, how did city and state policy affect the economic development climate?
–“good business climate”?
–What kinds of policies lay the groundwork for “green economic development”?
–with whom has the Silicon Valley competed and with whom is it now competing (see O’Mara’s current work: Bangalore, Shenzhen, Silicon Valley)
–How have/will regional consumer practices influenced/been influenced by

Environmental History (see David Pellow, Pincetl, Walker)
–the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition; Superfund sites
–how has the interaction of EJ, environmentalists, federal cleanup, and business corrections and abuses affected the political economic context for developing a green economy?

Education Institutional Framework (see Saxenian, O’Mara, Walker, 2002; Findlay)
–community colleges, state colleges and research universities, Stanford
–How were these institutions both power brokers in the political economy of land use, but also engines for economic development with employment-education agreements?

Finance Capital (see Saxenian, Castells)
–how did VC evolve and what did its presence do for the evolution of the Valley
–Can we place this VC market in the context of other global knowledge cities? How might these relationships change? How do these investment patterns model other places? Who are the players and what are their portfolios? Are the major finance brokers betting on other places? If so, how?


Adams, Stephen B. “Regionalism in Stanford’s Contribution to the Rise of Silicon Valley.” Enterprise Soc 4, no. 3 (September 1, 2003): 521-543.

Alarcon, Rafael Guadalupe. “The migrants of the Information Age: Foreign-born engineers and scientists and regional development in Silicon Valley.” Dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1998.

Arbuckle, Clyde. Clyde Arbuckle’s history of San José : the culmination of a lifetime of research. San José: Smith & McKay Printing Co., 1986.

Beers, D. Blue Sky Dream: A memoir of America’s Fall From Grace. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

Benner, Chris. Staircases or Treadmills?: Labor Market Intermediaries and Economic Opportunity in a Changing Economy. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007.

—. Work in the New Economy: Flexible Labor Markets in Silicon Valley. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2002.

Berlin, Leslie. The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006.

Brook, James. Resisting the virtual life: the culture and politics of information. San Francisco  ;Monroe  OR: City Lights, 1995.

Brown, John Seely, and Paul Duguid. The Social Life of Information. 1st ed. Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

Canty DJ. “At Home In San-Jose + Architect-Directed Redevelopment Program Transforms The Center Of California 3rd Largest City.” Architectural Record 178, no. 10 (September 1990): 132 -137.

Canty, Donald J. “At Home in San Jose.” Architectural Record 178, no. 10 (September 1990): 132.

Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society (New Edition). 2nd ed. Wiley-Blackwell, 2000.

Christensen, Terry, and Tom Hogen-esch. Local Politics: A Practical Guide To Governing At The Grassroots. 2nd ed. M.E. Sharpe, 2006.

Claiborne, J. “Rebuilding Downtown San Jose: A Redevelopment Success Story.” Places 15, no. 2 (Winter 2003): 4-11.

Cornford, D. Working People of California. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1995.

Cronon, William. Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past. W. W. Norton & Company, 1994.

Egan, Timothy, and Timothy P. Egan. Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West. Vintage, 1999.

English-Lueck, J. A. “Silicon Valley reinvents the company town.” Futures 32, no. 8 (October 2000): 759-766.

Findlay, Jonathan. Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture After 1940. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: Univeristy of California Press, 1992.

Hackworth, Jason. The Neoliberal City: Governance, Ideology, and Development in American Urbanism. 1st ed. Cornell University Press, 2006.

Hall, Peter. Cities in Civilization. Pantheon, 1998.

Hall, Tim, and Phil Hubbard. “The entrepreneurial city: new urban politics, new urban geographies?.” Progress in Human Geography 20, no. 2 (June 1, 1996): 153-174.

Hansen, D. The New Alchemists.

Hayes, Dennis. Behind the silicon curtain: the seductions of work in a lonely era. Boston  MA: South End Press, 1989.

Hossfeld, K. “Why Arent High-Tech Workers Organized?: Lessons in Gender, Race, and Nationality from Silicon Valley.” In Working People of California, 405-432. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1995.

Jackson, Kenneth T. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. Oxford University Press, USA, 1987.

Jiménez, Francisco. Ethnic community builders: Mexican Americans in search of justice and power : the struggle for citizenship rights in San José, California. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2007.

Kriken,  J. “Lessons from downtown San Jose.” Places-A Forum Of Environmental Design 15, no. 2 (WIN 2003): 30-31.

Lessig, Lawrence. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. Vintage, 2002.

Lewis, Michael. The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story. Penguin (Non-Classics), 2001.

Logan, John R. “Logan on Molotch and Molotch on Logan: Notes on the Growth Machine-Toward a Comparative Political Economy of Place.” The American Journal of Sociology 82, no. 2 (September 1976): 349-352.

Markusen, A. The Rise of the Gunbelt.

Matthews, Glenna. Silicon Valley, Women, and the California Dream: Gender, Class, and Opportunity in the Twentieth Century. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2003.

Matthews, Glenna Christine. A California Middletown: The Social History of San José in the Depression, Dissertation, Dept. of History, Stanford University, 1976.

Molotch, Harvey. “The City as a Growth Machine: Toward a Political Economy of Place.” The American Journal of Sociology 82, no. 2 (September 1976): 309-332.

Nguyen, Vu-Bang. “Vietnamese-American Community Outreaching: West Evergreen in San Jose, California,” 2004. Berkeley Library Catalog.

O’Mara, Margaret Pugh. Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Park, Lisa Sun-Hee, and David N Pellow. “Racial Formation, Environmental Racism, and the Emergence of Silicon Valley.” Ethnicities 4, no. 3 (September 2004): 403-424.

Pellow, David, and Lisa Park. The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy. NYU Press, 2002.

Pincetl, Stephanie Sabine. Transforming California: A Political History of Land Use and Development. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Pitti, S.J. The Devil in Silicon Valley: Northern California, Race, and Mexican Americans. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Rawls, James and Walter Bean. California: An Interpretive History. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 1998.

Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition. Revised. Penguin (Non-Classics), 1993.

Rhee, Nari. “Searching for working class politics: Labor, community and urban power in Silicon Valley.” Dissertation, Dept. of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, 2007.

Saxenian, A. Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 1994.

—. The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy. Harvard University Press, 2007.

Scott, A.J. Technopolis: High-Technology Industry and Regional Development in Southern California. Berkeley; Los Angeles; Oxford: University of California Press, 1993.

Self, Robert O. American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland. Princeton University Press, 2005.

Shih, Johanna. “Circumventing Discrimination: Gender and Ethnic Strategies in Silicon Valley.” Gender & Society 20, no. 2 (April 2006): 177-206.

Siegel, Lenny, and John Markoff. The high cost of high tech: The dark side of the chip. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Stanford Environmental Law Society. San Jose: Sprawling City; a Report on Land Use Policies and Practices in San Jose, California. Stanford, Calif., 1971.

Trounstine, Philip and Terry Christensen. Movers and shakers : the study of community power. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982.

Turner, Fred. From Counterculture to Cyberculture. Stanford University Press, 2006.

Langdon Winner. “Silicon Valley Mystery House.” In Michael Sorkin, ed. Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space. 1st ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992.

Walker, Richard A. The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area. University of Washington Press, 2008.

—. Silicon City: The Evolution of an Electronics Mecca. Unpublished manuscript, 2002.

White, Richard. “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A New History of the American West. University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

Zlolniski, Christian. Janitors, Street Vendors, and Activists: The Lives of Mexican Immigrants in Silicon Valley. 1st ed. University of California Press, 2006.


Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities

Building Partnerships USA

BVN San Jose 1975-2006

b l a n c a ~ a l v a r a d o

California Redevelopment Association

Central Valley Partnership

CJTC — The Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community


Conference Program SJSU Immigration Conference

Opportunity Fund

Enter the World of Eichler Design

green planning facilitation education

Institute for the Study of Social Change (ISSC) UC Berkeley

Interview with Ted Smith SV Toxics Book

Joint Ventures: The Index of Silicon Valley

Knowledge Cities

Leadership Institute | Urban Habitat

Manuel Pastor Presentations in pdf

Margaret O’Mara – Home

Mysteries of the Region Knowledge Dynamics in the SV Paul Duguid

Oanh Ha won a 2003 award for reporting on Mayfair

Professor Langdon Winner – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Resources : SV Modern | Celebrating the Silicon Valley’s Mid-Century Past

San Jose Redevelopment Agency

San Jose Underbelly Cool historic al photos

Santa Clara County Archives – County Clerk-Recorder (DEP)

SiLiCoN vAlLeY dE-bUg

Silicon Valley Community Foundation – Publications & Research

Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits

Silicon Valley History

Silicon Valley History

Silicon Valley History Online

Silicon Valley Local History Resources

Silicon Valley Online: Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance

Silicon Valley Prospector: Economic Development Available sites, buildings, demographics, businesses and GIS mapping–

Silicon Valley Workforce Investment Network, connecting job seekers and businesses.

SJSU Communiversity

Somos Mayfair

Sourisseau Academy

South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council

Stanford Silicon Valley Archives

Sustainable Silicon Valley

SVTC: Silicon Valley Toxic Tour

The Regional Advantage of the Silicon Valley and Its History

Thrive Alliance of San Mateo County Nonprofits

Transweb – Mineta Transportation Institute

UC berkeley Labor Center Leadership Schools

UCB Guides to City & Regional Planning Research

University of Minnesota Syllabus on Silicon Valley History

Working Partnerships USA

Working Partnerships USA Reports

CSA Announces Plans for 2009 Conference on the Silicon Valley

The history of the Silicon Valley was wrought by the bulldozer. Here is a 1954 conversion of a field into the Palo Alto Shopping Center on the Stanford Campus.


In July, the CSA steering committee voted to hold our next conference at De Anza College in Cupertino, CA, likely sometime in April, though the date has not been finalized.

The conference theme will focus broadly on an alternate vision of the Silicon Valley, an attempt to orient the official boosterist narrative of the entreprenuerial region toward the history, culture, and politics of the local communities in the Valley. The conference will bring together scholars, activists, non-profit professionals, and government officials to discuss the political economy of the Valley in the historical and cultural context of California.

The conference co-chairs are,

Mae Lee, PhD, professor of intercultural studies at De Anza College and co-director of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute, who is conducting a study about political formations of Asian Americans in the Silicon Valley. Contact

Tom Izu, executive director of the California History Center and Foundation, located on the De Anza campus. Contact

Also on the conference organizing committee are,

Cynthia Kaufman, PhD, a professor of philosophy at De Anza and author of the book Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change. Contact

Nari Rhee, PhD, post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Research on Labor and Education at UC Berkeley, who has written a dissertation on labor history and politics in the Silicon Valley. Contact

Aaron Wilcher, MA, instructor of Humanities at De Anza College and a master’s student in the Dept. of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, who is working on a study of politics and built space in the Valley. Contact

Santa Clara Valley Labor Discussion at South Bay First Thursdays (Thur, July 10)

From Tamon Norimoto, Asian Americans for Community Involvement

Please join us to learn about how the South Bay labor movement is helping working families in the service sector fight for economic justice and how you and your job in Corporate Cubicle Company can affect the implementation of progressive labor policies. Labor activism in the Silicon Valley looks very different then you think – our panelists will share real life stories about why and how they got involved in the labor movement and what difference it’s making in all of our lives. Their stories about standing up and fighting for respect will inspire you in the most unexpected ways.”

Thursday, July 10, 2008
7pm – 9pm – (Registration opens at 6:30pm)
Ironworkers Hall- South Bay Labor Council
2102 Almaden Road, Room 110
San Jose CA 95125 view map

To RSVP, please visit our Evite

Donations support refreshments, room rental, misc costs, and fee waivers.
Recommended donation for program and food: $10 – $20
No one will be turned away for lack of funds.