Rafael Essl (2021)

  Urban Crisis and Multiple Disruption: The Invisible Workers and Dwellers of Silicon Valley
Abstract   This diploma thesis investigates the multidimensional socio-spatial effects of Silicon Valley’s creative cluster on the San Francisco Bay Area. The region is dramatically influenced through tech’s inherent drive for disruptive innovation, which caused immense economic success and subsequent urban inequality, the unsettling of social structures, and the undermining of public goods. The contradictions that arise through the techno-economic progress become particularly evident at the given case study on working homelessness. The case is discussed via a qualitative content analysis of various media sources on the everyday life and urban conflicts, which arise through the immediate presence of the working homeless population in public space – supplemented by a reflection on power structures in discourse and semi-structured expert interviews that illustrate the vast context of tech disruption and the interconnected state of a multiple urban crisis. While the invisible workers and dwellers of Silicon Valley become increasingly pushed into unbearable living and working conditions due to ever-growing housing costs and gig-economy work ethics, their means of informal dwelling, in residential vehicles and cars parked in urban space, are contested by the city municipalities, formal residents, and corporations. This phenomenon is symptomatic for the urban crisis, which can be encountered globally. Yet it certainly reached gigantic levels in the Bay Area.
Submitted   at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning
Supervision   Dr. phil. DI (FH) Sabine Knierbein