Review of The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited

‘Every human being is creative’ and the rise of creativity as an economic engine is the key thesis of The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited. This book departs from the original 2002 version in that the term creative class has since evolved. Florida explains that the term ‘used to mean artists and writers. Today, it means job stability’ (p. viii), and contends that for prosperity and jobs to materialize, there is a need to convert every job into a ‘creative job.’ It may sound like a straightforward thesis,
but some scholars are apprehensive about Florida’s theory of creativity and his thought-provoking creative economy ethos. In order to re-assert his thesis of creativity and in an attempt to explain the key forces that have been transforming the economy and culture over the past several decades, Florida has added five completely new chapters and revised the original 13 chapters – all of which culminate in a compendium of 481 pages filled with anecdotes, statistical data, theory, and literature

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Richard Florida on What the Creatives Want, Revisited

In Chapter Four of his new book, The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited, Richard Florida examines what motivates creative workers. Florida finds that what matters most to Creatives is as follows:

  • Challenge and Responsibility—i.e. intrinsic rewards, exciting projects
  • Flexibility—i.e. flex-time, the freedom to be oneself; as he states, “Flexibility means more than the freedom to show up at the office at 10:00AM wearing a nose ring. Creative people want the freedom and flexibility to pursue side projects and outside interests” (p. 73)
  • Peer Recognition—i.e. a powerful source of motivation as many Creatives put in the hours without pay to achieve recognition from their peers
  • Location and Community—i.e. the desire to be engaged in the places they live and to be accepted for who they are
  • Money and More—i.e. compensation, bonus and benefits help but they are not all-important for the Creatives.

Overall, Creatives want to live and work in a place where their creativity is fostered. This is one of the key messages of Florida’s new and revised edition.

On June 25th, I attended Richard Florida’s talk at the MaRS building in Toronto, organized by the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto, where he reiterated the importance of fostering creativity and took us back in time to explain how his ideas for Creativity began. There he contended that our ability to express creatively is influenced by the role of our community. The reminiscence of Jane Jacobs is in many of Florida’s works. During the talk, he echoes Jacob’s stance in that the city is the vehicle for innovation. Thus, as Florida would agree, the city needs to cater his Creatives to ignite growth. One way to think about the city, Florida exhorted, is to think about the metabolism of animals, as their body mass grows—from a mouse, to a dog, to an elephant, their metabolism slows down; however, in a city, the metabolism speeds up as density grows. As a result, cities mobilize talent as the basic platform of the Creatives. Then I say:  give the Creatives what they want!