Modernity, google, machine age, responsible technology, social responsibility, immigration, h 1b, industry of knowledge work, information technology industry, knowledge work, immigration history, industrial capitalism, demonization, immigrant demonization, demonization of immigrants, rhetoric of information technology, rhetoric, visual rhetoric
Regulation of admission to the United States for technology workers from foreign countries has been a difficult issue, especially during periods of intense development. Following the dot.com bubble, the Google Corporation continued to argue in favor of higher limits under the Immigration and Nationality Act exception referred to as “H-1B” for the section of the law where it appears. H-1B authorized temporary admission for highly skilled labor in specialty occupations. Congressional testimony by Laszlo Bock, Google Vice President for People Operations, provided the most succinct statement of Google's concerns based on maintaining a competitive and diverse workforce. Diversity has been a rhetorical priority for Google, yet diversity did not affect the argument in a substantial and realistic way. Likewise, emphasis on geographically situated competitive capability suggests a limited commitment to the global communities invoked by information technology. The history of American industry produced corporations determined to control and exploit every detail of their affairs. In the process, industrial corporations used immigration as a labor resource. Google portrayed itself, and Google has been portrayed by media from the outside, as representative of new information technology culture, an information community of diverse, inclusive, and democratically transparent technology in the sense of universal availability and benefit with a deliberate concern for avoiding evil. However, emphasis by Google on American supremacy combined with a kind of half-hearted rhetorical advocacy for principles of diversity suggest an inconsistent approach to the argument about H-1B. The Google argument for manageable resources connected to corporate priorities of Industrial Modernity, a habit of control, more than to democratic communities of technology. In this outcome, there are concerns for information technology and the Industry of Knowledge Work. By considering the treatment of immigration as a sign of management attitude, I look at questions posed by Jean Baudrillard, Daniel Headrick, Alan Liu, and others about whether information technology as an industry and as communities of common interests has achieved any democratically universal “ethical progress” beyond the preceding system of industrial commerce that demands the absolute power to exploit resources, including human resources. Does Google's performance confirm skeptical questions, or did Google actually achieve something more socially responsible? In the rhetoric of immigration history and the rhetoric of Google as technology, this study finds connections to a recycled corporate-management version of Industrial Modernity that constrains the diffusion of technology.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Texts and Technology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Patten, Neil, "Recycled Modernity: Google, Immigration History, and the Limits for H-1B" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1293.