Science, Enterprise and Profit: Ideology in the Knowledge-Driven Economy
As our notions of Britain’s Druidic past are woven around the mute facts of burial mounds and stone circles, so the working model of the future now familiar as ‘The New Economy’ has been constructed around such totemic sites such as Silicon Valley and the ‘Technopolis’ of the Austin/San Antonio corridor (Smilor, Kozmetsky and Gibson, 1988). Through authoritative repetition, and because of their real-life settings, the plot and characters of both sets of stories have acquired a patina of facticity which tends to conceal the contestable nature of the interpretations on which they depend. Thus the overt plotline of a recent collection on Silicon Valley (Miller, Lee, Hancock, and Rowen, 2001) is the conventional one indicated in its subtitle, ‘A Habitat for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.’ Reviewing this collection in the Times Higher Education Supplement, the founder of the Venturefest International Technology Fair in Oxford has pointed out that there is also, ‘threaded into the narrative,’ a story of heavy and continuing dependence on software, device and communications engineers, many of them imported from China and India (Johnson, 2001). For Johnson, this alternative reading is highly consequential, raising questions about how far the valley phenomenon can be emulated in the UK without active measures to create similar engineering capabilities.
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