Call for Papers: “Digital Capitalisms: Grappling with Big Tech in the Silicon Valley and Beyond”, Special Issue of Organization, Deadline: 01.09.2024



Armin Beverungen, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

Timon Beyes, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

Paula Bialski, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Nishant Shah, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China


Submission Deadline: 1 September 2024

In recent years, the largest US-based tech companies such as Alphabet, Apple, Meta and Amazon have been subject to increasing scrutiny from regulatory bodies, consumers, the broader public, and their employees. Collectively known as ‘big tech’ (Birch and Bronson 2022), they have become the hegemons of digital capitalism, building most of the digital technology we engage with on a daily basis, from social media platforms to online marketplaces, from the backbones of the internet to the software and infrastructure on which our organizations run (Rossiter 2016). ‘Silicon Valley’, nominally the place where the big tech companies are primarily situated, has grabbed attention for the way it has shaped big tech’s organizational principles as much as digital capitalism more broadly today. Drawing on both burgeoning contestations of Silicon Valley, as much as a critical scholarship that records its unsettling influence, this issue calls for a reckoning with big tech and Silicon Valley today. In doing so, it also wants to decenter ‘the Valley’ and its hegemony, exploring how it serves as a template for other ‘silicon x’s across the globe, and other big tech companies such as Baidu, Tencent or ByteDance, which challenge its version of digital capitalism.

In organization studies, Shoshana Zuboff’s theses on surveillance capitalism (2019) have perhaps most prominently set the stage for a reckoning with big tech’s version of digital capitalism. Her work has also brought attention to Silicon Valley as a site in which much of the organizational principles of surveillance capitalism were articulated and from which they are spread globally (e.g. Levine 2018; York 2021). This call is an invitation to engage with further scholarship on Silicon Valley, which has for example foregrounded its technophilia and pointed at the sexism, colonialism and exploitative labour relations inherent in our computers (Mullaney et al. 2021). The history of Silicon Valley documents the ties between settler colonialism, eugenics and contemporary modes of technological organization (Harris 2023). Silicon Valley’s organizational culture also includes an infatuation with simplistic notions of smartness and tech-solutionism (Sadowski 2020; Halpern and Mitchell 2023) as much as with genius and disruption (Daub 2020).

As part of the so-called ‘techlash’, social movements and the very workers that run the big tech companies are challenging some of Silicon Valley’s organizational principles, both at the core and the periphery (Beehan and Turner 2021). These challenges include worker struggles against precarious working conditions at platform companies such as Uber (Dubal 2017), the ‘great labour awakening’ and unionization drive at Amazon and other big tech companies (Hayasaki 2021; Kim 2022), or the continuing struggles against the global labour regimes of digital capitalism (Pun et al. 2019). The burgeoning tech worker movement (Tarnoff 2020) has challenged the cultures of exclusion and (white) male fraternity and privilege mirrored in the working culture of Silicon Valley itself (Wiener 2020) as much as key technological developments, such as big tech’s recent obsession with big data and large language models (Bender et al. 2021). There are even calls to liberate technology from capitalism and to (metaphorically) abolish Silicon Valley (Liu 2020).

Silicon Valley emerges here as a corporate, cultural and technological complex, one whose global dimensions and hegemonic reach stand to be assessed. Its global dimensions become apparent in the way it is building a ‘new global underclass’ (Gray and Suri 2019), strategically invisibilizing the kinds of labour required to build the gadgets the big tech companies design and sell (Irani 2018), or in the geopolitical struggles e.g. around TikTok or Huawei that also highlight big tech’s entanglements with states. Its hegemonic force comes into view when one considers a ‘planetary Silicon Valley culture’ (Zukin 2021) in which ‘silicon x’ places are invented around the globe, whether it is Silicon Wadi on the coast of Israel, Savannah in Kenya (Cirolia et al. 2023), Cape in Cape Town (Pollio 2020) or places such as Bangalore or Shenzen (Qui and Chen 2019). Silicon Valley is on the one hand operationalized as an organizing principle of innovation, of aspiration and inspiration. At the same time, it is certainly not simply the centre of a widely distributed and striated global capitalism; not only because a competing big tech complex has emerged in China (To 2023), but also because its hegemony is being challenged, in the ‘silicon x’s and beyond.

The dominance of big tech corporations, after the corporation was deemed to lose relevance in digital capitalism (e.g. Davis 2016), calls for a radicalization of existing critiques of corporate power (e.g. Bloom and Rhodes 2018). The way Silicon Valley’s organizational culture and principles are inscribed in everyday digital technologies requires a further inquiry into how media technologies organize and are organized (Beverungen et al. 2019; Beyes et al. 2019; Beyes et al. 2022). More broadly, and taking a cue from ‘Silicon Valley’ as phantasmal, actual and contested site of organization and corporate, cultural and technological power of ‘big tech’, the purpose of this special issue is to reposition the study of digital technology, capitalism and organization in light of the critical scholarship and contestations outlined above. We are particularly looking for contributions which carefully reflect on how organization studies has perhaps so far not taken sufficient account of the more radical critiques of digital capitalism and its major players and sites – the ‘silicon x’s around the globe –, particularly attempting to relate more specific or situated studies to these broader dimensions of digital capitalism.

Contributions can include but are not limited to:

  • Analyses of the corporate power and form of ‘big tech’, also in relation to how the US corporate forms travel, and modes of resistance and regulation against it;
  • Historical studies and genealogies of the development of (counter-)discourses, imaginaries and organizational contexts (e.g. the cold war, cybernetics, and counterculture; see Martin 2003, Turner 2006), as well as organizational prehistories of ‘digital capitalism’;
  • Studies of the capitalist and postcapitalist presents and futures imagined and built in and around the ‘silicon x’s, in relation to big tech as ‘small tech,’ ‘middle tech’ (Bialski 2024), or ‘no tech’;
  • Feminist, postcolonial and anti-“race” critiques of contemporary organizational technologies, from robo-recruiters to facial recognition to affective computing;
  • Analyses of contemporary struggles and movements around gender, “race” and class in the big tech sector or around platforms and their labours;
  • Studies of ‘digital Taylorism’, other kinds of management practices prevalent in big tech, and the global dimensions of big tech’s labour regimes;
  • Spatial studies of big tech’s organizational (and computational) topologies as forms of power, of Silicon Valley’s ‘elsewheres’, and of ‘big tech’s’ affective and atmospheric registers;
  • Explorations of the intellectual organization of digital capitalism, e.g. in relation to libertarian, authoritarian and anti-democratic fantasies (Slobodian 2023) or philosophies such as longtermism or affective altruism;
  • Reflections on the ‘doing’ of critique, and of critical scholarship, under the conditions of pervasive entanglement with digital capitalism’s everyday technologies.

Submitting your paper

Papers may be submitted electronically from 1 August 2024 until the deadline date of 1 September 2024 to SAGETrack at:, indicating the special issue in the system. Papers should be no more than 10,000 words, including references, and will be blind reviewed following the journal’s standard review process. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the guidelines published in Organization and on the journal’s website:

Authors may send in their ideas and queries to the SI editors at

Webinar in March 2024

An online webinar will be held in March 2024. The webinar will provide further editorial guidance and an opportunity to gain feedback on ideas/work in progress. The date and time will be confirmed in early 2024. Extended abstracts (max 1,000 words) should be submitted to the guest editors through the email address by 28th February 2024.