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Overview

Richard Florida's work -- 'The Rise of the Creative Class' and 'Cities and the Creative Class' -- would propose that a new or emergent class, or demographic segment made up of knowledge workers, intellectuals and various types of artists is an ascendant economic force, representing either a major shift away from traditional agriculture - or industry-based economies, or a general restructuring into more complex economic hierarchies.

The theses developed by Florida in various publications were drawn from - among other sources - US Census Bureau demographic data, focusing upon economic trends and shifts apparent in (at first) major US cities, with later work expanding the focus internationally.

He argues that this creative class has been on the rise for at least four decades; with an economic shift towards technology, research and development, and the Internet (and related fields) building within the overall postwar economies of many countries.

A number of specific cities and regions (San Francisco with Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128, The Triangle in North Carolina, Austin, Seattle, Bangalore, India, and Dublin, Ireland) have come to be identified with the these economic trends; in Florida's publications, the same cities are also heavily associated with the "creative class."

Florida's research of census and economic data, presented in 'Cities and the Creative Class' and 'The Rise of the Creative Class' have shown that cities which attract and retain the creative class prosper, while those that do not stagnate. This research has been gaining more and more traction among members of the business community, as well as among politicians and urban planners.

In 'Cities and the Creative Class', Florida devoted several chapters to a discussion of the three main prerequisites of creative cities--though there are many additional qualities which distinguish creative magnets. Basically, for a city to become a magnet for the creative class, it must be an example of "the three 'T's" of Talent (have a highly talented/educated/skilled population), Tolerance (have a diverse community, which has a 'live and let live' ethos), and Technology (have the technological infrastructure necessary to fuel an entrepreneurial culture).

As Florida showed in The Rise of the Creative Class, and Cities and the Creative Class, cities like Buffalo, New Orleans and Louisville are examples of those which have tried to attract the creative class but, in comparison to cities which better exemplify the "three 'T's", have failed. The creative class is looking for cities that better accommodate their cultural, creative, and technological needs—cities such as Chapel Hill, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon.

Florida and others have found a strong correlation between those cities and states which provide a more tolerant atmosphere toward gays, artists and musicians for example (exemplified by Florida's "Gay Index" and "Bohemian Index" developed in The Rise of the Creative Class), and the numbers of creative class workers that live and move there.

Research involving the preferences/values of this new socio-economic class has shown that where people choose to live can no longer be predicted according to old Industrial Age models (such as "people will go to where the jobs/factories are"). Sociologists, Urban Studies theorists, etc. have noted that a gradual, and broad shift of values has been afoot over the past decade. Creative workers are looking for cultural, social, and technological amenities/climates in which they feel they can best "be themselves".

The creative class is a class of workers whose job is to create meaningful new forms. The creative class is composed of scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and architects, to name a few. Their designs are widely transferable and useful on a broad scale, as with products that are sold and used on a wide scale. Another sector of the creative class includes those positions which are knowledge intensive. These careers usually require a high degree of formal education. Examples of this sector are health professionals and business management. Their main job is to think and to create new standard approaches for fixing the problem at hand. Creativity is becoming more valued in today’s global society. Employers look at creativity as a channel for self expression and job satisfaction in their employees. 38.3 million Americans and 30% of the workforce in America identify themselves with the creative class. This number has increased more than 10% in the past twenty years. In short they are shaping a new culture for the America of the 21st century.

The creative class is not a class of workers among many but in reality it is the class that will bring any country who has them to great economic power and growth. The main advantage to a creative class is that it creates outcomes in new ideas, high-tech industry and regional growth. Even though the creative class has been around for centuries, the U.S. was the first large country to have this creative class that deals with information technology in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1960s less than five percent of the U.S. population was part of the creative class which is now 26%. Seeing that having a strong creative class is vital in today’s global economy, Europe is now almost equal with America's numbers for this class. Competition has developed as to who can attract the creative class to their cities.

Comments and Analysis

The following is a critique of Florida's first book 'The Rise of the Creative Class.' Items in bracket is our analysis of the unbracketed point expressed in the book.


  • [Economics, not Politics as Driver -- Economics, not politics has been the base of the development of our society, since it is of a material base, whereas politics is vital. The educated class has given it its power. Creativity in society, which is the focus of Florida’s book, is the highest aspect of education. Thus, the 40% creative people that the author describes have the decisive economic influence in the US.]
  • Spirituality not Economics as 21st Century Driver --In the 21st century, spiritual individuality, rather than economics will be at the forefront. [Spirituality is a movement beyond the physical nature of economics, the higher vital nature of politics and social intercourse; even beyond the great mental ideals and plans of leaders and movements. Each succeeding level has a greater power. Four stages of human history -- Man has progressed from the original physical to the vital stage of his development. There is some movement in the last 100 years progressing at the mental level. The spiritual level is beyond these.]
  • [Things Worth Uncovering -- Understanding how US has became the socio-cultural leader of the world is worth uncovering. What constitutes world leadership, and what makes the US a leader is also worth contemplating. Both of these will support an understanding of the emergence of the Creative Class (and perhaps how it can occur elsewhere outside the US)].
  • [The Author's Openness, Wisdom -- In the preface the author shows his openness by revealing things in his research that do not conform to conventional wisdom. He shows a many-sided wisdom born of openness and discovery. (These two values are interestingly revealed in the book to among the key sources of the success of the Creative Class). Florida's is not a prejudiced view; i.e. it is more objective.]
  • [Creativity and Growth -- Creativity has become the driving force of economic growth. The Creative Class that engages in creativity therefore drives America economically.]
  • [Creativity and Education -- Creativity is the highest aspect of education; that it is the spearhead of our society. Thus the Creative Class is the highest aspect of the education spearhead, giving it its most power.]
  • [Skill Locations -- He notices that companies moved to, or formed where, there were skilled people. Why this was occurring is why he wrote the book. [He lived in Pittsburgh, which was the antithesis of this movement.]
  • [Where People Want to Work -- Economic growth has been focused in places that were tolerant, diverse, and open to creativity. These are where creative people wanted to work. [This was my own experience as well, from the '70s onward.]
  • Creative Class's Unconscious Awareness of Itself -- The Creative Class is unconscious of its own dominant role in society. If this creative class can becomes conscious, it can lead our society in many ways, including overcoming many of its problems. [This is a key theme in his book.]
  • Social Change and Crisis -- Social change occurs not during booms but during crisis, as in the 1930s and 9/11 [and 60s]. [What about the Internet? Perhaps that’s not the social change itself, but the result of it. I.e. of the mental evolution of man]
  • Future Cohesion of Creative Class -- The author hopes the Creative Class can develop cohesion to help others who are not in that class. He hopes events like 9/11 and the Dot Com bust can create that social impetus to bring that cohesion and change.
  • Change is Accelerating - He argues that the change from 1950 till now is vaster than that from 1900-1950. [We have suggested it is even more dramatic than that; so he is on the right track.]
  • Norms and Values are Accelerating -- From 1900-1950 there is a relatively bigger technological change to period 1950-2000. In 1950-2000 norms and values have been the truly great relative change compared to 1900-1950 where they changed less. From 1950-2000 there has been a vast change in the social structure, in the rhythms and patterns of our daily lives. There has been great social and cultural change including rise of individuality, self-expression, changed attitudes, expressions, and behavior. There has been in this period a deeper, more pervasive transformation.
  • Society's Change that is Our Conscious Choice -- Society is changing because we want it to. We are not victims; it is our choice. It is also changing in a logical and rational way, contrary to other’s opinions. [This emphasis on human choice is a major theme of ours -- i.e. Human Choice.]
  • Human Creativity is the Driver -- The driving force is human creativity, now being unloosened in an unprecedented way.
  • A Creative Economy -- Even more significant than our being an “information” or “knowledge’ economy is the fact that we are a creative economy.
  • [Creativity and Intuitive Perception -- Thought: Creativity enables intuition, which means a fuller perception of the object of any knowledge. This enables even greater knowledge through education, which means greater, faster achievement and prosperity.]
  • Conscious Awareness of Creative Power -- We are becoming conscious of the power of creativity to enable success, and we are systematizing this fact in work and in our lives. [It seems pretty much unconscious; which the author aims to make conscious; explained in later chapters.]
  • Competitive Advantage of Creativity -- Creativity is the decisive source of competitive advantage.
  • Cultural and Artistic Creativity -- There is an interplay of technological and economic creativity with artistic and cultural creativity. (This is evident in such new inventions as computer graphics.)
  • Creativity in Companies -- Creativity must be nurtured in companies. E.g. companies with open dress code, having creativity in research and development that is well funded.
  • New Focus on Creative People -- There is a putting of creative people, even bohemians at the center of power.
  • New View of Creative People -- The creative person is no longer considered eccentric, but mainstream.
  • People-centric View in the New Age -- People are the critical resource of the new age.
  • Creative Cities, Places that Succeed -- Place, like San Francisco Bay Area and Austin and Boston, is important. Access to a talented and creative pool is critical. Companies say to cities trying to lure them with old methods: “Keep your tax incentives and highway interchanges; we will go where the highly skilled people are.”
  • Places that have a creative climate; cities that are trying to become broadly creative communities, attract the Creative Class individuals.
  • Mobility in Society -- People now move about more. There are weaker ties, replacing the strong old social bonds. There is a desire to find places where we can make friends and acquaintances more easily and live quasi-anonymous lives.
  • Self Identity of Creative People -- These individuals of the Creative Class have more self-identity; rather than the traditional group identity (e.g. in families, churches, companies, etc.) [This is important!]
  • Creativity and Education -- Creativity is the highest from of education. Education is the spearhead of economic growth. It is then no wonder that the Creative Class is leading the economic charge and boom.
  • From Economic Class to Creative Capacity -- We are moving away from being defined in terms of being an economic class and functioning. That is no longer the determinant. One’s creative work is; i.e. their creative individuality is the determinant. Thus individuals can be viewed as whether they are or are not part of the Creative Class.
  • The True, Self-thinking Individual -- The social influence is less on these creative individuals. [This is again important in that we can accomplish more, know more, and evolve more when we are less concerned with social opinion and influence.]
  • Quantity of People in Creative Class -- 38 million Americans belong to this new class, the Creative Class.
  • Values of the Creative Class -- Their values are: creativity, individuality, self-expression, openness, difference, and merit. [Merit (i.e. pay for deserved skill) is the first socialistic major tenet of Marx that capitalism has adopted. Pay for one’s true needs is a next step.]
  • Makeup of Creative Class -- There is a core creative class as well as a broader group of creative professionals around these 38 million.
  • Creative Core of Creative Class -- There is a Super Creative Core of the Creative Class of 15 million.
  • Earnings of Creative Class -- Members of the Creative Class earn 2x the average pay in the US.
  • Changes in the Family Makeup -- There has been a decline in the nuclear family.
  • Creativity in 'Non-creative' Jobs -- Creativity is even growing in jobs outside the Creative Class, such as in the improvement in factory floors, i.e. operation.
  • Moving out of lower Classes and Creativity -- The key to those who are of the lower classes rising is not more social welfare, but supporting the emergence of their creativity.
  • Amenities of Creative Cities -- The Creative Class is in large cities, metro areas that offer amenities. They are also in smaller regions that offer such amenities, as in certain college towns.
  • These cities, towns provide stimulating, creative environment, and diversity, allowing for individual expression.
  • Conservative Southern Sun-Belt cities, which have expanded since WWII, have not been attracting these people for obvious reasons.
  • Evolution of Society -- There is an emergence of a new society, culture, and way of life.
  • Importance of these Shifts in Society -- These shifts are the most enduring developments of our time.
  • Creativity in Companies -- In companies there are significant changes: new forms of self-management, of peer recognition, new motivational approaches, casual dress, less hierarchy, etc. [Truism of Tom Peters.]
  • Companies are giving workers the ability to work and grow, to shape the content of their work, control their own schedules, etc. Companies that enable these factors will thrive; those who don’t will wither and die.
  • Blending of Bourgeois, Bohemian Values -- There is a blending of the bourgeois and the bohemian values.
  • Creativity in Various Aspects of One's Life -- The people in the Creative Class tend to be very creative in other aspects of their lives. (E.g. they have other outside interest, such as artistic interests. They are living a more full life expressing creativity in many ways beside work.)
  • They live lifestyles of creative expression; there is less separation between work life and home life. [E.g. living-work lofts in San Francisco mission district exploded during Dot Com boom.] They desire for a rich, multidimensional experience in their lives. [This is an evolutionary movement that we can explain.]
  • Changes of Time in Work -- The use of time in work has densified, intensified; packing every second full of creative stimuli and experience. [We can be creative here and explain in terms of new definitions of time and timelessness in the emerging spiritual age.]
  • Their perception of time has begun to warp and morph. E.g. one can work more when one wants. [See above]
  • Larger Social Changes -- People now work intensely when young, rather than the slow movement up the hierarchy of the company culminating in the proverbial gold-watch. Marriage is deferred. Midlife crisis now are becoming quarter life crisis (!), as people seek other outlets (beyond the customary relationships) for their creative capacities. [Another significant development.]
  • The Communities of the Creative -- There is a desire among the Creative Class to live in distinctive communities rather than the homogeneous city or suburb. [The outer can manifest the inner creative vision, and it can support the inner.]
  • The Relationships of the Creative -- People in the Creative Class tend to have impermanent relationships, and live more anonymous lives in such communities. [One must first find true freedom to find Self and Universal Self to others and the world. I.e. it creates the right conditions to extend to others. Of course, within the bounds of culture and propriety.]
  • Global Change -- Such developments are part of a larger global change toward economic and social systems based on creativity. [This opens the doors to even more insight.]
  • Most social writers do not perceive the great social changes that are under way. Many long for a lost past; others for a technological-oriented future without understanding the real social change going on. [The emerging higher harmonies will transcend the contradicting perceptions.]
  • Human Choice and Change -- The social observers think that changes are being imposed on us, when it is really what we are choosing. [Again very important idea of human choice]
  • Social and Cultural Change -- More than technology it’s the change in the social fabric over decades that are bringing about these great changes. Social and cultural changes are having even more impact than technological change. These forces have been building for decades. [Perhaps we can say the technological is the outer result, rather than the cause, though it can at some point reinforce the social cause as well.]

Additional Related Thoughts

The Emerging Creative Class

Those regions of society fostering great independence of thinking, more creativity, and dynamic individual lifestyle attract those individuals that develop into a creative class that enables regional boom. It is yet a further instance of the educated class being the catalyst of great society. Creativity is the highest aspect of education, which has been the catalyst and spearhead of our society. Thus the Creative Class is the highest aspect of the education spearhead, giving it its most power.

Moreover, this Creative Class is unconscious of its own dominant role in society. If it becomes conscious it can lead our society in many ways, including overcoming many of its problems.

The Advantage of Cities for the Development of Consciousness

A city is full of life. Greater life teaches you greater things. When life is primitive, the lower forces are more organised, so one is more defensive. In a city, anybody will be ready to help you. In a village, everyone will be ready to destroy you, unless mutual help is necessary.

A city has more expressions of modern technology. For the curious, the city offers a greater occasion to understand. Cities have libraries, museums, etc. For a person who has a natural endowment of personality (at birth), he has a greater scope for development in the city. The city helps develop your personality.

How? The city helps whatever endowment you have. It has a maximum and a minimum. If you have opinions, motives, if you are finite, you will get the minimum out of the city. If you are open-minded and willing to examine your opinions and motives and subjugate them to the new opportunity, you have the maximum opportunity.

On Creativity

Higher education enables more creativity. Creative education enables accelerated creativity. Creative self-knowledge enables vast creativity. Supermental [ultimate spiritual] lifestyle is ongoing infinite creativity.

Power of Creativity in Society

Even more significant than our being an information or knowledge economy is the fact that we are a creative economy. We are becoming conscious of the power of creativity to enable success, and we are systematizing this fact in work and in our lives. It is the decisive source of competitive advantage.

The economy by definition becomes creative when it self-generates jobs, service, and Prosperity. The Internet enables this.

The Internet and Mental Stage of Evolution

While we are aware of the technological roots of the Internet, we should also be aware that the Internet is really a product of the current mental stage of social evolution that we have just begun to enter. The Internet is a natural expression and embodiment of the aspiration of modern society for unlimited and immediate access to information and unlimited means for individual creativity and self-expression. These are characteristics of the mental stage of social evolution.

Internet and Individual Empowerment

We are all becoming aware of the tremendous practical benefits of the Internet; everything from electronic commerce, instant access to news and information, a tool for research, and many others. The increased velocity and better quality of information, better because more current, has also begun to dramatically increase the speed and quality of individual decision-making. This in turn releases mental energy and encourages mental creativity. Thus, the Internet is a very dramatic example of empowerment of the individual, a fundamental characteristic of the emerging mental stage of social evolution.

Development is a Process

Development is a process not a program. Development is not the result of a set of policies or programs. It is the result of a process by which society moves from lesser to greater levels of energy, efficiency, quality, productivity, complexity, comprehension, creativity, enjoyment and accomplishment.


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