The Silicon Valley of Dreams

Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy

303 pages

December, 2002

ISBN: 9780814767108

$26

Paper

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Authors

David N. Pellow is the Dehlsen Chair of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His teaching and research focus on environmental and ecological justice in the U.S. and globally.

All books by David N. Pellow

Lisa Sun-Hee Park is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Consuming Citizenship: Children of Asian Immigrant Entrepreneurs and the co-author, with David Pellow, of The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America's Eden and Silicon Valley of Dreams: Immigrant Labor, Environmental Injustice, and the High Tech Global Economy, also available from NYU Press.

All books by Lisa Sun-Hee Park

Next to the nuclear industry, the largest producer of contaminants in the air, land, and water is the electronics industry. Silicon Valley hosts the highest density of Superfund sites anywhere in the nation and leads the country in the number of temporary workers per capita and in workforce gender inequities. Silicon Valley offers a sobering illustration of environmental inequality and other problems that are increasingly linked to the globalization of the world's economies.

In The Silicon Valley of Dreams, the authors take a hard look at the high-tech region of Silicon Valley to examine environmental racism within the context of immigrant patterns, labor markets, and the historical patterns of colonialism. One cannot understand Silicon Valley or the high-tech global economy in general, they contend, without also understanding the role people of color play in the labor force, working in the electronic industry's toxic environments. These toxic work environments produce chemical pollution that, in turn, disrupts the ecosystems of surrounding communities inhabited by people of color and immigrants. The authors trace the origins of this exploitation and provide a new understanding of the present-day struggles for occupational health and safety.

The Silicon Valley of Dreams will be critical reading for students and scholars in ethnic studies, immigration, urban studies, gender studies, social movements, and the environment, as well as activists and policy-makers working to address the needs of workers, communities, and industry.

Reviews

  • "Provides a timely and necessary counter-balance to the incessant ‘new economy' hype that touts Silicon Valley as the answer to the myriad economic and environmental challenges around the world. This comprehensive overview helps to peel away the veneer by using an innovative combination of research methods, including direct participatory research. It raises disturbing and compelling concerns by examining the many environmental and gender injustices that have been at the center of the ‘Silicon Valley miracle.' An important contribution to the key debates of the twenty-first century about sustainable development."

    —Ted Smith, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

  • "This landmark study adds significantly to our understanding of both the underside of Silicon Valley and the high-tech industry in specific, and the historic links between social inequality and environmental inequality in general. The authors also leave us with a sense of hope by offering examples of effective movements for justice."

    —Karen Hossfeld, San Francisco State University

  • "An important contribution to the contemporary critique of high tech industry."

    Contemporary Sociology

  • "Offers a lot for the general reader. The authors must be congratulated."

    International Migration Review

  • "Powerful and passionate expose."

    Journal of American Ethnic History

  • "The Silicon Valley of Dreams . . . exposes the numerous inequities that plague the area, from the huge number of temporary workers, the highest per capita in the nation, to the obvious absence of union jobs."

    Conscious Choice