PSCI 280
Silicon Valley: Digital Transformation and Democracy Fall 2021
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed PSCI 280 / STS 280 / POEC 280

Class Details

Nearly every country in the world seeks to drive economic growth by promoting digital technologies. The universal model is Silicon Valley. In this tutorial, students will examine the origins of the Silicon Valley model and other countries’ attempts to emulate it. Departing from “just so” stories of technological determinism, we take up the lens of comparative political economy to investigate the politics that allowed US tech firms to shape economic policy to meet their interests. It is no accident that tech became a symbol for economic growth in the 1970s, precisely when it also began to build powerful alliances in Washington. After investigating the origins of the Silicon Valley model, we trace attempts to adopt it in Europe and Asia, which highlight the model’s political contingencies and some of the more salient conflicts over the tech sector. We focus on the ways in which the Silicon Valley model can threaten social welfare through economic inequality and precarious employment, and engage a variety of perspectives, including workplace ethnography, to examine these threats, as well as potential regulatory responses. The course concludes by considering what policies could be appropriate for supporting, while also regulating, the tech sector in the twenty-first century.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1686
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Five 5-page papers; five 2-page responses; participation
Prerequisites: One introductory course in political science and/or permission of the instructor.
Enrollment Preferences: Preference will be given to sophomores or juniors majoring in a Division II field
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PSCI 280 Division II STS 280 Division II POEC 280 Division II
WS Notes: Students will write essays each week. In addition, students will read each others' work and engage in structured critique.
Attributes: POEC Comparative POEC/Public Policy Courses
PSCI American Politics Courses
PSCI Comparative Politics Courses
PSCI Political Theory Courses

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