A contemporary history of Silicon Valley as global heterotopia: Silicon Valley metaphors in the French news media

Henry Jones, Brian Sudlow

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Abstract

This paper explores the extraordinary symbolic resonance of Silicon Valley in global cultures. Through a case study examining a large electronic corpus of French newspaper articles (2014-2019), we demonstrate the extent to which the Californian tech hub’s reputation has been repurposed worldwide, probing in particular metaphorical uses of its name in descriptions of countless other places around the globe. Harnessing the explanatory power of Foucault’s concept of heterotopia, our analysis reveals how comparing a site to Silicon Valley carries a variety of discursive functions as a tool of political and commercial rhetoric with tangible advantages in a globalized setting. Uses of Silicon Valley to evoke a more prosperous future are, however, contested in the corpus, most visibly in interviews with political philosopher Eric Sadin. We argue that Silicon Valley as heterotopia thus reflects and reconfigures both our highest hopes and deepest fears amid the unsettling upheaval of the digital age.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalGlobalizations
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Silicon Valley
  • Heterotopia
  • Global cultures
  • France
  • news media

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