Read The Rise of the Creative Class--Revisited: 10th Anniversary Edition--Revised and Expanded by Richard Florida Free Online
Book Title: The Rise of the Creative Class--Revisited: 10th Anniversary Edition--Revised and Expanded|
The author of the book: Richard Florida
Edition: Basic Books (AZ)
Date of issue: May 14th 2014
ISBN 13: 9780465029952
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 13.43 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.6
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I had been hearing about and looking for this book for a long time, though my interest started to wane when I learned that the book dated all the way back to the ancient days of the early 2000s -- after all, if there was such a thing as a "creative class", then surely the last decade has been an important one, perhaps a definitional one, for it. So how relevant really would it be to read about Creatives in an age before the internet really got into gear?
So I was happy to find out that in fact an all new 10th anniversary edition had recently been released, with newer data, more chapters, and some coverage of the last decade.
So what is the "Creative Class"? This is how Florida (the author, not the state) came up with the idea: as an economist interested in the lifecycle of cities, he was looking for a set of factors that accounted for robust economic growth in some cities and stagnation in others. What most economists already knew was that much of the growth was taking place among the well-educated in progressive areas, and there already existed certain indices, such as the "Human Capital index" (essentially a measure of how much education has been invested into the population of a place) that already did fairly well at explaining growth. But Florida felt he could do better, and in putting together his "Creativity index" (which correlated better with economic growth than other indices) he began to think that the index provided clues to an important social, economic and cultural shift that is happening around us.
Here's the idea: the Working class has been on the decline in terms of population size and earning potential for a long time now. The Service Class, though huge, has also seen wages stagnate or drop. But offsetting these declines are a massive category of (often) new jobs that can't be automated or outsourced: these are, to paraphrase, jobs in which creative problem-solving plays a major role. These are the creative jobs, and the highly trained, (usually) highly educated workers who fill them are the Creative Class.
To contrast for a moment, with an index like Human Capital, which simply provides an accounting of the years of education collectively received by a population, for Florida it is the content of the job that matters, rather than level of education. Does it matter, in short, that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg didn't get college degrees? Education doesn't matter. The job matters.
This aspect of the Creativity Index appears sneaky to me: in effect it allows Florida to "thread the needle", as it were, in deciding which jobs count as "creative" and which don't. After all, unlike education level, the "creativity content" of a job is subjective, and indeed, around the "creative core" of those jobs we would colloquially describe as "creative" (engineers, scientists and researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, etc.) Florida wraps a layer of "supporting creatives", such as lawyers, medical practitioners, accountants, etc. This is the infrastructural support needed to get the core creative work done, and probably doesn't hurt Florida's Index as a correlative of economic growth that many of these supporting jobs are fantastically lucrative.
So what we're left with is some very dissatisfying semantics: is an accountant or lawyer REALLY "creative" in the same sense that a film-maker or graphic designer is? My feeling, personally is no, but what is clear is that "The Problem Solving Class" rings clunky next to "Creative Class". So we let Florida get away with his dubious semantics and his needle-threading and we see where he goes from there.
And where he goes is what makes the book really exciting.
Because having defined a "Creative Class" he goes on to characterize it, and to characterize the places where the Creative Class thrives. And what I found exciting about this part of the book is that he was very clearly talking about ME and all my friends.
We are a largely urban and urbane bunch. We are shockingly unmaterialistic. We chose location over square footage. We spend money on "experiences" not "stuff." We value "street-level culture" rather than "high culture". We value the creative ecology, the mixing of many disciplines and kinds of people. We are stimulated by change and variety and challenged assumptions.
One of my favorite and most telling examples from the book relates to the creative worker's decision-making around where to live. Two generations ago, if a factory opened up somewhere, or a research facility, a worker might be expected to move across the country, and settle down there (no matter how culturally desolate the locale) for a long career at that company. Today, by contrast, workers expect to spend no more than 1-2 years at a given workplace -- their loyalty is to their "personal brand", not a corporation. As they don't expect to be at any company for the long haul, they chose where to live based on lifestyle fit and job ecology rather than the presence of any particular job. Furthermore, once a critical mass of creative workers concentrate in a location, companies with the means will soon attempt to capitalize on it by opening up satellite offices. So attractive lifestyle and economic opportunity, far from being at odds as they might have been in previous decades, now seem to go hand-in-hand.
In short, whereas two generations ago workers moved to where the jobs were, today the jobs move to where the workers are.
This example is particularly interesting because it leads directly to the question that Florida might in fact be most interested in: from a policy standpoint, what can a city do to bring is Creatives and the jobs that go with them?
Florida's answer might be summarized with "Bike lanes, not stadiums". He is a big believer in "authenticity and lifestyle" as big selling points for the creative class. Let people live in dense, mixed-use neighborhoods, let them bike and walk and take public transportation to work. Let them eat good food, listen to live music, engage in public art and local activism. All of this constitutes the "street-level culture" he talks about so much in the book.
(It is somewhat suspicious that this all seems to reflect such straightforwardly progressive values. Indeed Florida includes "Tolerance" as one of his "Three Ts", three factors crucial for a city hoping to make it in the Creative economy (the other two are "technology" and "talent"). Are there really no significant examples of strong-growth American cities that DON'T look like a liberal urban nirvana? Does 21st century capitalist society really have so strong a liberal bias?)
This is particularly interesting because it contradicts much of the urban growth conventional wisdom that is still strongly reflected in city economic policy all over the country. According to conventional wisdom, the path to job growth is through tax incentives to large corporations (or entire industries) to try to entice them to open a local factory or office). According to conventional wisdom, cultural projects might include an opera house, or a new sports stadium. All of this is wrong, says Florida. The workers you want will be drawn by a job ecology, not a single large factory-like one-size-fits-all job provider. The opera is stultifying, old-fashioned and inauthentic. And sports stadiums DEPRESS urban vibrancy, creating large wastelands that gets lots of foot (and actual) traffic a couple times a week, but nobody wants to live there. What instead the city needs to sell itself on is the lifestyle. Get that right and the workers and the jobs will come.
(How true is that? I'm not sure -- could Seattle have become the out-sized cultural and technological force it's become without first Boeing and then Microsoft, two massive factory-like corporations, setting up shop there and providing great wages to vast swaths of the local middle class? Can a new urban center skip this "industrial creative" phase and jump straight to the "lifestyle creative" phase? Hard to know.)
Florida has prescriptions even broader than that: what do we do, in the end, about the many people who are being left behind by the creative economy, those in the working and service classes whose wages have been stagnating for decades? His answer is an intriguing one: make their jobs more creative! Bring them into the creative class by giving them more decision-making and problem-solving responsibility, more freedom to improvise. More opportunity to customize and adapt to local situations. Do all that, and you will have workers who are happier, more empowered, and more productive enough to justify their better wages.
By the way, if you want to get at the data that (presumably) back up all of Florida's assertions, you will find no shortage of it liberally sprinkled throughout the book, though I'll admit it takes a more rigorous statistical mind than my own to evaluate the thoroughness of his analysis. If you're someone who is more interested on the culture of the Creative class, all these charts and tables may well be overboard. As a technical discussion, I can't say that part of it is all that riveting.
Nonetheless. My pleasure in reading this book was one of self-recognition -- this book GETS me, and people like me. And maybe I'm part of something big that's going on right now all around us. And it's incredibly exciting -- maybe similar to the excitement of a teenager getting handed the car keys for the first time -- that cities might be starting to design themselves around my way of thinking and seeing the world, rather than my grandfather's.
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Read information about the authorRichard Florida (born 1957 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American urban studies theorist.
Richard Florida's focus is on social and economic theory. He is currently a professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, at the University of Toronto. He also heads a private consulting firm, the Creative Class Group.
Prof. Florida received a PhD from Columbia University in 1986. Prior to joining George Mason University's School of Public Policy, where he spent two years, he taught at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College in Pittsburgh from 1987 to 2005. He was named a Senior Editor at The Atlantic in March 2011 after serving as a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com for a year.