Introduction: The Rise of the Creative Class
The emergence of a new social class, the creative class, is based fundamentally on the value of human intelligence, knowledge, and creativity. Richard Florida, who wrote “The Rise of the Creative Class,” in 2000, takes on this term “creative” in a multitude of ways socially, culturally, and economically.
Human creativity, Florida determines, is the ultimate economic resource. The ability to develop new ideas and better ways of doing things is ultimately what raises productivity and thus living standards. One of the greatest transitions in America was the shift from an agricultural-based economy to the industrial age. This transition was based on natural resources and physical labor power. The transition we are undergoing now, Florida notes, is a shift from an industrial economy to a creative economy based on human intelligence, knowledge, and creativity (Florida).
The people that make up the creative class are the ones who are paid principally to do creative work as a living. They engage in complex problem solving that involves a great deal of independent judgment and requires high levels of education or human capital. The core of the creative class include scientists, engineers, artists, musicians, designers, and knowledge-based professionals. It also includes an even broader range of creative people in business, law, finance, and health-care. In fact, the creative class is composed of approximately 30% of all Americans and accounts for nearly half of all wage and salary income in the United States, about $1.7 trillion (2000). The other social classes include the service class, which is made up of the cashiers, salespeople, police officers, food preparers, medical assistants, and administrative assistants and the working class, which includes the miners, welders, carpenters, truck drivers, production workers, and construction workers. The service economy is the support infrastructure of the creative age. The diagram below shows the allocation of people in each social class in the Cleveland area (Florida).
The three T’s for economic growth, Florida states, provides a model in which creative-seeking communities should base their investments and energy in. The first T, Technology, is measured by innovation and high-tech industry concentration. Talent, the second T, is measured not by human capital but by creative capital, which is talent measured functionally, by the numbers of people actually in creative occupations. Tolerance, the third T, is about places that are open and accepting and therefore have an edge in attracting different kinds of people and new ideas. The Tolerance Index is based on four measures, including the Gay Index, the Bohemian Index, the Melting Pot Index (the concentration of foreign-born people), and racial integration, which is used to capture how integrated rather than separated a community is throughout its internal geography (Florida).
Florida ranks a region’s creativity based on a model known as a creativity index, which establishes a rating system for a region’s ability to harness creative energy for long-run economic growth based on the 3 T’s of economic growth (Florida).
The Transformation of Everyday Life
American society is undergoing a transformation of everyday life that has changed from one that was typically based around manufacturing, service, and working sectors to one that is based on creativity. Creativity, in comparison to the other sectors, thrives in a different work environment. Florida compares the blue-collar and white-collar working sectors to the creative sector, which is no-collar. It is considered no-collar because the creative class includes a vast amount of individuals and professionals who demand the ability to learn and grow, shape the content of their work, control their own schedules and express their identities through work (Florida).
o The Experiential Lifestyle
We demand a lifestyle built around creative experiences. We are impatient with the strict separations that previously demarcated work, home and leisure. This is why live work communities are a good idea.
o The Time Warp
A whole new social construction of time is emerging. The old boundaries that told us when we should do something have faded into oblivion. Creative work requires long hours of intense concentration, punctuated by the need to relax, incubate ideas and recharge.
o The Creative Community
“Creative people have always gravitated to certain communities (…) that provide the stimulation, diversity and a richness of experiences that are the wellsprings of creativity” (Florida).
“In place of the tightly knit urban neighborhoods of the past or alienated and generic suburbs, we prefer communities that have a distinct character” (Florida).
Brandon E. Young