[URBANTH-L]BOOK: Steven McKay, "Satanic Mills or Silicon Islands?"

Benito Vergara bvergara at sfsu.edu
Wed Mar 29 12:53:17 EST 2006

Satanic Mills or Silicon Islands? The Politics of High-Tech Production in the
Philippines. 2006. Ithaca and London: Cornell University/ILR Press

Satanic Mills or Silicon Islands? challenges the myth of globalization’s
homogenizing power, arguing that the uniqueness of place is becoming more, not
less important. Steven McKay documents how multinational firms secure worker
control and consent by reaching beyond the high-tech factory and into local
labor markets. He also traces the rise of a new breed of privatized export
processing zones, revealing the state’s—in these cases, the Philippines—revamped
role in the wider politics of global production. Finally, McKay gives voice to
the women workers themselves, as they find meaning, identity, and agency on and
beyond the “new” shop floor.
This book deftly weaves together three critical strands of global studies:
Southeast Asia as a key site of global production, the organization of work in
advanced electronics, and working-class conditions under globalization. Drawing
on the author’s rich analysis of four multinational electronics firms—from their
boardrooms to boarding houses—Satanic Mills or Silicon Islands? makes a unique
contribution to the study of work, labor, and high-tech production.
"This important and original book addresses workplace and labor issues of global
significance. To my knowledge, there has not previously been an in-depth study
of the developmental strategy or high-tech industrial production in the
Philippines. Steven McKay's comparative case-study design is admirable and shows
the variation across four firms in a single industry. His discussions of the
more technical aspects of high-tech production are readily comprehensible to
general readers. This book's firm-level data and worker narratives are rich,
revealing, and at times moving."—Ching Kwan Lee, University of Michigan
"Working in the best traditions of industrial ethnography Steven McKay shows how
globalization, far from being the clichéd homogenizing force, fans out into a
variety of production regimes. There's no best practice, but a wide range of
locally sensitive managerial strategies to elicit worker commitment. Satanic
Mills or Silicon Islands? is a must-read for all those who study work and
politics."—Michael Burawoy, University of California, Berkeley

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