Creative class

Creative class

The creative class is a group of people that social scientist Dr. Richard Florida, a professor and head of the Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, believes are a key driving force for economic development of post-industrial cities in the USA.

The "Creative Class" concept is controversial, as is Florida's methodology. He breaks the Class into two broad sections, derived from standard SOC codes data sets:

  • Creative Professionals: "Knowledge workers" and expanding to include lawyers and physicians.
  • Super-Creative Core: This comprises about twelve percent of all U.S. jobs. This group is deemed to contain a huge range of occupations (e.g. architecture, education, computer programming) with arts, design, and media workers making a small subset.

Additional to these two main groups of creative people, the usually much smaller group of Bohemians are also included in the Creative class.


The social theories advanced by Florida have sparked much debate and discussion. Florida's work 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.

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

Creative class occupations

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 and the global economy

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.

Places of high creative class populations

Florida's research of census and economic data, presented in works such as Cities and the Creative Class and The Rise of the Creative Class, as well as Bobos in Paradise, by David Brooks (whose "bobos" roughly correspond to Florida's creative class), and NEO Power by Ross Honeywill that introduces the NEO Neighborhood, 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. For instance, Florida and other creative class theorists have been invited to meetings of the National Conference of Mayors and numerous economic development committees, such the Denver mayor's Task Force on Creative Spaces and Michigan Governor Granholm's "Cool Cities" initiative

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, Washington, D.C., Austin, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. Florida also notes that Milwaukee, Wisconsin has all of the ingredients to be a "leading city in a new economy".

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 and 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".

See also

External links


  • On the Poverty of Experts: Between Academization and Deprofessionalization. Hartmann, Heinz, Hartmann, Marianne. 1982, vol 34, iss 2, pg 193
  • Fussell, Paul. Class, especially chapter titled "Class X". 1983.
  • Ray, Paul H. and Sherry Ruth Anderson. The Cultural Creative. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000
  • Scott, Allen J. “Creative Cities: Conceptual Issues and Policy Questions,” Journal of Urban Affairs, 28, 2006, 1 – 17.

Web References

  • Cleveland, Harlan. “After Affluence, What?”. October 1977. Aspen Instit Humanistic Studies November 3, 2005.
  • Saenz, Tara Keniry. “Portraits of U.S. High-Technology Metros: Income Stratification of Occupational Groups from 1980-2000”. March 2005. U Texas, Austin November 31, 2005.

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