The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life

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The Washington Monthly 2002 Annual Political Book Award Winner The Rise of the Creative Class gives us a provocative new way to think about why we live as we do today-and where we might be headed. Weaving storytelling with masses of new and updated research, Richard Florida traces the fundamental theme that runs through a host of seemingly unrelated changes in American society: the growing role of creativity in our economy. Just as William Whyte's 1956 classic The Organization Man showed how the organizational ethos of that age permeated every aspect of life, Florida describes a society in which the creative ethos is increasingly dominant. Millions of us are beginning to work and live much as creative types like artists and scientists always have-with the result that our values and tastes, our personal relationships, our choices of where to live, and even our sense and use of time are changing. Leading the shift are the nearly 38 million Americans in many diverse fields who create for a living-the Creative Class. The Rise of the Creative Class chronicles the ongoing sea of change in people's choices and attitudes, and shows not only what's happening but also how it stems from a fundamental economic change. The Creative Class now comprises more than thirty percent of the entire workforce. Their choices have already had a huge economic impact. In the future they will determine how the workplace is organized, what companies will prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities will thrive or wither.

Customer Reviews:

  • Thought Provoking and and an Important Addition
    I work with an organization that is in the process of revitalizing an small city in upstate New York. Florida gives us food for thought about how the young, professional...creative class thinks differently than the generations that preceeded them. This book is not an end-all (what book is?)it adds some important thoughts to the conversation. The lifestyle expectations of this group are higher. I lived in LA for most of last year and I obsevered a pattern of creative class individuals leaving for Boulder, Austin, and the like in order to have a better most cases at equal or less income.
    His thesis that a growing creative class population is a factor in economic and lifestyle growth is valid. As manufacturing jobs continue to decline in the US we need to look towards the well-paid occupations that will grow. I recently read Peter Drucker's "Management Challenges for the 21st Century" and he refers to this group as "knowledge workers" and he believes that they are the most important group of workers our economy.
    The bottom line for me is: The creative class people like a lot of the same things that other groups do but it's more important to them. Considering this group is an important element in urban development. ...more info
  • Politicos: ignore at your own risk!
    Unlike one of the other reviewers, I did not get the impression
    that Florida is primarily an ivory-tower theoretician. Rather,
    he constantly grounds his conclusions in facts and observations,
    often substantiated statistically, i.e. what is actually happening.
    His starting point is metropolitan areas in the U.S. and the world
    that are actually prospering (some of which were economic backwaters
    just two decades ago), and he asks "why?"

    His answers sometimes run counter to the bromides of regional economic
    development still touted by politicians who, in the words of
    disappointed residents, "just don't get it." They do, however, often
    agree with Jane Jacobs, another analyst of urban life, whom many
    statist renewal experts in the 1960s dismissed scornfully as a romantic
    amateur, but whose star has risen ever since in that very profession.
    High-profile improvements today often consist of razing historic
    neighborhoods in favor of (1) shopping malls with "big-box" and other
    impersonal chain stores, (2) convention centers, and (3) new sports
    arenas outrageously subsidized from the public purse on behalf of
    for-profit companies featuring employees with six- and seven-digit
    salaries, who virtually hold a city for ransom under threat of moving
    elsewhere, together with a handful of wealthy and powerful fans who
    desire exclusive, plush box seats unavailable in older stadiums.

    Where such colosseums and other facilities have thus far come to pass,
    Florida observes (not theorizes) that the promised economic benefit to
    their areas has not-- especially considering the opportunity cost of
    the neighborhoods destroyed and the other possible directions in which
    such money and attention could have been aimed. Equally significant,
    these projects leave those very people cold that vital companies
    actually locate or re-locate to attract. "As Hewlett-Packard CEO
    Carley Fiorina once told this nations's governors: 'Keep your tax
    incentives and highway interchanges; we will go where the highly
    skilled people are.'" (p.6). This is not theory. This is a statement of
    policy from a representative major corporation in the growth sector of our

    Florida summarizes the characteristics that attract such residents
    as "3 Ts: technology, talent, and tolerance." All three must be
    fostered. To the critics: what better ideas do you have, and how
    do you support them empirically?

    My only quibble is to wish that the book had been copy-edited and
    proof-read better. The frequency of typos and ungracious prose
    sometimes becomes rather embarrassing....more info

  • The rise of the over indulged techno class
    This book states (and restates and restates) that there is this creative class that is making money and transforming cities into vibrant economies if they are given the freedoms they need to stay creative. Sadly while he in name only includes artists, writers and musicians he seems only concerned with creative technology folks. Sure they are making money but artists continue to do what they do and have always had liveable communities. Economically viable? Well they don't have a starbucks on every corner and they can't afford hip nightlife and funky grocery stores but people have been making art weather or not cities chose to cater to them. The overpaid techies who have the privlege of comanding huge salaries and little personal responsiblity for their wealth need more put on a silver platter for them. Artists and creative types have rarely looked to others for their sustainablity. This is a book that is so shallow in its approach to creativity an a truly authentic and sustainable city economy that it left me annoyed. And the passing references to this Creative Class being very diverse but not black made me sit up. Some of the most gifted (and popular) artists, musicians, writers and directors are black, surely they make up some of this group. But not in Austin, not in Texas where being black is dangerous. Mr. Florida has created a neat package, trendy catch phrase and tidy profit, but he has not tapped or understood true creativity....more info
  • Very interesting--surprisingly informative and worthwhile.
    I think many of the preceding reviews provide insight on this book: the argument is a tough-sell, it relies on generalizations, and it doesn't get everything right. However, I don't this book is meant to be a final statement, but rather the beginning. Taken in that light, Florida's work has great importance for cities and governments as we try to lay the foundations for sustained prosperity and happiness in the USA.

    At a time when stadium boondoggles are soaking taxpayers around the country, Florida's book is urgently relevant. The argument may need some work, but hey: entrepreneurs of all kinds tend to thrive in a diverse, artsy, weird, non-conformist environment. Corporate welfare is not the answer (see Detroit), bike lanes and grunge music is (see Portland, OR).

    Wealth and happiness is ultimately created by people, not by giant corporations. Devising a great place to live, where people have great parks, schools, arts, and freedoms is the best path to the well being of economies and citizens alike....more info

  • A Compelling Thesis, but a Sometimes Frustrating Read
    A local newspaper just reported that Microsoft will be opening an Innovation Center here in Boston.

    Having just finished Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class, I found the news to make a lot of sense.

    In this book, Florida lays out snapshots of economic patterns, developments and innovations throughout history and then attempts to tie them all together into an arch thesis. He sees most of the economic power, and indeed the power to to form the way we work today, shifting to a class of innovative-minded, usually educated, creative workers.

    Mobile, intense and diverse; the creative class, Florida points out, tends to cluster geographically around innovative centers. But unlike some long held beliefs would have it, (beliefs that still influence much public and urban economic policy,) "creatives" aren't attracted by larger capital projects like suburban industrial parks. Instead they like to live in, or close by, locations that have creative enviroments influenced by thing such as tolerance, talent and technology. (Florida calls these the 3 T's.)

    Florida has a palpable despair when he talks about his adopted hometown of Pittsburg, PA. Here is a city, he tells us, that still doesn't get it. Despite many traditional urban policy efforts, that city continues its decline from a once vaunted status as an innovative center, where new methods of steel production made it an economic powerhouse. Meanwhile, a city like Austin, Texas is able to attract the most innovative young Americans and spawn startups and companies that are powering the new economy. Examining differences like these provides both the starting point and the heart of Florida's argument.

    The book constructs a very compelling narrative, which feels, in some ways incomplete; it makes sense that the author has gone on to write several other books to elaborate and track his thesis as our times change.

    The major problem Florida encounters, (mentioned in other reviews, and which I will second here,) is just how to define his "creative class." Who is in it? While he does segment this class into two distinct categories, sometimes it is tough to follow. At one point he seems to be saying that everybody is in the creative class because everybody is creative.

    The book is easy to read, but perhaps not easy enough. What I mean is that Florida writes in very simple, understandable prose, (almost too simple at times; the most interesting passageas are quotes cited from other authors) but the overall structure of the book seems a little off. He will sometimes lead with pages of dry, statistical information, and then follow up with a narrative or colorful example. While this seems like a logical way to construct the argument, (lay out the evidence and then nail it home,) sometimes it can make for a frustrating reading experience.

    Overall, Florida's book has somewhat of an identity crisis: Current Affairs/Economic Policy Paper/Self-Help/Journal Article/Memoir/Powerpoint Presentation. He intends the book for anybody, but he knows that he is dealing with statistical and economic models that may be too much for the average reader. He thinks the stories and observations bring home his point better than the data, but is concerned that critics, and even readers, may think he is centering his thesis on anecdotal evidence.

    Reading the book is necessary if you are going to develop an opinion on the policy suggestions Florida is inspiring all over the country. For example, Massachusetts just appointed, in their Business Development Office, a Creative Economy Director. A superficial synopsis of the ideas presented in Rise of the Creative Class tends to betray the larger and more complicated development issues with which the author is concerned.

    The book will keep you thinking for a long time afterwards.
    ...more info
  • Great explanation how the World works and where it is heading.
    Richard Florida is one of the most original thinkers explaining how the world works. Others are better known such as Thomas Friedman. But, not many are more insightful. I got to R. Florida's work in reverse. I read his most recent book first Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life. I enjoyed this book so much; I read this earlier book second. It is just as interesting.

    If you are in the workforce, you will identify with Florida "Creative Class." He analyzes all the economic, social, cultural, and psychological trends associated with the emergence of this Creative Class. The world he depicts is recognizable because it pictures the working world we live in.

    He observes two major emerging trends: first people sort themselves by his defined classes (creative -, working -, service -) and by places. Second, the Creative Class represents the economic winners. Wherever they cluster, places thrive. This work supplements Hernstein and Murray's observations in Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) that people sort themselves by cognitive abilities. R. Florida supplements that this cognitive stratification has a geographical component.

    There is nothing fuzzy about his `Creative Class' concept. It is based in precise definition of census job categories (IT, engineer, lawyer, scientist, business, finance, health care, arts, etc...) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Appendix Table 2 shows that the Creative Class grew from 10% of the workforce in 1900 to 30.1% in 1999. During the same period, the Working Class shrank from 35.8% to 26.1%, and Agriculture shrank from 37.5% to 0.4%.

    With the rise of the Creative Class, innovation in the U.S. has grown exponentially. In the third chapter `The Creative Economy,' the author shows graphs disclosing the very rapid growth during this period in R&D, patents, and number of scientists. R. Florida shows how the U.S. in 1999 was the world leader in the majority of Creative Class sectors such as R&D, software, Media, film, fashion, and art. This is because of the U.S. competitive advantages such as first class universities, research, and venture capital financing. Also, those factors are supported by a tolerant culture that he measures at the MSA level with his Gay Index and Bohemian Index. He states that the U.S. hi-tech centers (San Francisco-San Jose, Seattle, Boston) were first culturally tolerant cities that fostered out-of-the boxes concepts generated by any weirdoes that came by. He describes Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates in such fashion. Their ideas would have not succeeded in traditional locations.

    R. Florida views creativity as the main economic engine. It is more important than labor, land, or capital. He refers extensively to the major economists who studied the economic impact of creativity before him, including Joseph Schumpeter who came up with the concept of creative destruction seventy years ago as depicted in The Theory of Economic Development: An Inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle (Social Science Classics Series). He explores this concept more extensively in "Who's City Are You?" where he shows that 40 Mega Regions with only 17% of the World's population generate two thirds of the World's GDP and over 80% of its innovations. Nevertheless, R. Florida was already onto this concept back in 2002. Three years before Thomas Friedman wrote The World Is Flat R. Florida already knew it was not. Instead, it is really spiky with most of the economic and creative activities concentrated in just a few regions. His analysis of how the world works is more insightful than Friedman's.

    Human capital is the central factor in regional growth. Investment in higher education predicts subsequent growth better than investments in physical infrastructure like roads. Regional economic growth is driven by the choice of the Creative Class. Where they decide to live, places will thrive. It is crucial for a city to develop a people climate that attracts the Creative Class in addition to a business climate. City leaders waste tax credits on stadiums that do not contribute to economic growth instead of applying them to university research, local neighborhoods and communities, music scene, and start up incubation. Two cities that have done an outstanding job in this area are Austin and Dublin in Ireland. One city, among many others, that did not is Pittsburgh.

    He uncovers strong positive relationships between his Bohemian and Gay Indices and economic growth, hi-tech sector growth, and population growth. He advances his theory of the three Ts. Economic growth and innovation flourish in places that are tolerant, attract talent and in turn attract technology. However, he divulges that such places are not ethnically diverse. He notices an absence of African American. However, earlier in the book he mentions that Asians and Indians (from India) are more than well represented in such hi-tech enclaves including San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Thus, his findings on diversity depend on what ethnic group he focuses on.

    R. Florida captures other interesting cultural features of the Creative Class. The members of this class are into sports such as biking, kayaking, hiking, instead of football and baseball. They are into experiencing nature at their own pace (often intense) instead of waiting around for a ref to make a call. He states that in certain hi-tech circles mountain biking has become a required social skill. R. Florida being also a touring biker indicates he chronically meets the top echelon in human capital (college professors, surgeons, entrepreneurs, lawyers) when biking. Also, he observes a high correlation between a city's fitness rank and its Creativity Index.

    When combining this book with his subsequent "Who's City are You?" Richard Florida explains a whole lot of what is going on from the local to the international level. His theory is scalable like a beautiful intellectual fractal.
    ...more info
  • Convoluted nonsense
    Patricia Drey in the MN Daily quotes this author as saying that "lawyers" and "doctors" are part of the "creative class". Surely these people jest.

    These folks would do better to pick up a copy of Peter Drucker's Innovation and Entrepreneurship and read the "sandwich shop" example found within the first 10 pages.

    If the writer can't get the basic definitions correct, (the assumptions) how are we to trust his conclusions?

    Don't waste your time....more info
  • Amazing - a great reference towards America's future
    If you want to understand why America's economy is strong, and what the future holds for us, then this is the book for you!!!

    Dr Richard Florida outlines how the 3 T's (technology, tolerance, talent) all lead to super charged economic landscapes

    What I appreciate most though is that Richard Florida is able to discuss how tolerance, diversity, and open immigration all effect our economy in highly positive ways, not just through the arena of a discussion, but with actual economic figures and scales

    Lastly, his discussion over why we should have tolerance for Gays, based upon positive economic figures, is an amazing point, that few would have thought of

    What more can I say? This book effectively addresses social changes and the economic landscape of America, without even taking political sides

    Bravo Dr Florida!!!!!!!...more info
  • Writing about diversity, esp. controversial topics, sells!

    1. His definition of creative class includes Doctors, Financial Planners who have been rated in a recent FastCompany article as the least creative -- just ask your primary physician or accountant

    2. He likes to believe that this Flight of the Creative Class because of our foreign policy etc. is the biggest challenge US has ever faced -- even bigger than Outsourcing. I agree that it is a problem but much smaller. If we look clearly, taking away the job of an average white collar american is much more devastating than not inviting one immigrant into the USA -- immigrants are big part of Mr Florida's creative class.

    3. Finally, Mr. Florida's claims are riddled with problems around casaulity ... Bohemian and gay indicies.

    I didn't read his book but attended a two hour speaking engagement -- which actually is usually better for me to absorb information comprehensively....more info
  • Unique in many ways-will startle you with all the facts and statistics
    The book is a unique attempt to explain regional economic development on the basis of unconventional measures such as the % of gays in the population, the % of foreign-born residents in the population and the % of the population engaged in creative occupations. The surprising part is that all of these factors mentioned above seem to explain regional economic development very well and much better than other more conventional measures such as the social capital in the community. Thus on the basis of his findings and research, the author makes the point that for cities to grow, they should be looking not just at what their business climate is but also at what their people climate is: do people from varied backgrounds feel comfortable in settling down in the community and calling it their home? Furthermore, the statistics presented conclude that while several regions in the Northeast and the West coast have been doing good on these measures, there are large stretches in the Midwest and the South that are being left out and he mentions that they have the risk of being relegated to the pages of history if they do not take corrective action in that regard. I personally did not agree with all of what was said in the book and also felt that the book reflects some of the euphoria about creativity that followed in the wake of the stock market boom (such a book would have been unlikely in more sane times of 2005) but nevertheless am not able to refute the statistical evidence that the author presents. Also by having spoken to people of my generation, I realize that some of the ways in which the author states people making decisions about where to move are indeed true and I can attest people saying that it is more "cool" and "hip" to be in Seattle or SF rather than being in Detroit or Gary. All in all, a very different book for me because the explanations which the author offers in the context of varying regional development are different from anything I have read or heard in the past. Recommended read for those interested in the question of regional economic development and what communities must do to stimulate the same....more info
  • Transforming a city, one artist at a time
    Richard Florida has effectively linked the concepts of a lively arts community and economic development. He shows with a great deal of statistics, that those cities with the greatest percentage of artists also have the greatest rates of economic growth. He attributes this to the creative class looking for a community in which they find an active arts community, a lively street environment, diversity and tolerance. These above average earners then move to those community that offers these assets and the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities. Only then do they look for a job.
    This book is not a blueprint for the redevelopment of a city but it is a good guidepost to determine the direction. ...more info
  • An Economic Developer's Perspective
    I can relate to many of the ideas expressed in Rich Florida's book, The Rise of the Creative Class. The book challenges us to think; that in itself makes it worthwhile.

    Overall, I agree that creativity looms large as an influence on our economy. The marketplace has nearly an insatiable appetite for new, more creative and different goods and services. The ability of people and organizations to adapt to their changing world requires both to become more creative. Most industries and businesses are in hot pursuit of creativity to gain a competitive edge. It is also true that communities are working harder at cultivating and using their creative talents and resources to gain a competitive edge for economic development opportunities.

    It is easy to get hung-up on particular components of Florida's framework, such as the gay variable. My research tells me that "sexual orientation/identity" is a powerful descriptor of social, cultural and economic life. Research shows us that "men" and "women" often see many issues differently in life.

    I see the necessity for all of us to look at the "whole" as well as the "parts" in looking at Florida's book. The "whole" is that creativity and social and cultural dynamics are major influences on the behavior and structure of economic systems, including local economies. Several earlier researchers also point out that creativity is very much a social phenomenon; that is individuals are can only be judged to be "creative" within a social and cultural context. Outside this context, we would be hard pressed to discern a "crazy" idea from a truly "creative" one. Read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's wonderful book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, which challenges earlier notions that creativity is solely (or primarily) a function of individual personality.

    We are literally at the starting blocks in understanding the complex relationship that economic development has with larger society, and how creative people will shape that future relationship. Available research, at best, depicts "correlation" and not "causation" in understanding how economic development processes (including creativity) relate to society's economic progress. Florida is trying to help us understand the correlations and hypotheses that he sees between our "social and cultural world" and our "economic and business world." Social scientists, including economists, have said for years that economic life is inseparable from social and cultural life. I think Florida is trying to remind us of this basic tie and help us think more precisely about these fundamental relationships.

    Political values, philosophies and policies, which reflect and represent the social and cultural interests of a community, have an indelible influence on the economic development agenda of cities, regions and states. This is true everywhere. The Creative Class reminds us of how social and cultural interests use the political process to influence wealth formation and distribution in society. That too is a lesson one could take from the book.

    As one who as been immersed in understanding the role of values and beliefs in shaping work, business and economic life, I can say that there is a need for research on these complex and vitally important issues. I believe that we need to expand our "consciousness" about these matters, including how our spiritual beliefs shape our thinking about economic development, people, organizations and society.

    We should always exercise caution in the "names" that we use to describe the world that we see through our values and beliefs. Assigning names is no simple matter. It is a basic strategy that is used by everyone to find and assign meaning in our daily lives. In this sense, what's in a name? Everything. Does such a thing as the "creative class" really exist? Is creativity really a "class" issue? I would guess that a large number of researchers focused on understanding creativity would argue that creative people exist in a wide variety of cultures and social classes, and that no single sociological class has a lock on creativity. Does the desire to be creative give rise to class formation? These are important questions that we should be asking as we explore the underlying issues in Rich Florida's work.

    Does the Creative Class provide a 100% bulletproof template that you can go home and apply to your community? No, probably not. Does it move us along the understanding curve, enable us to ask better questions and remind us of the close ties between social and cultural dynamics and the economy we have? Yes, I believe that it does.

    In closing, I am reminded of an earlier book, Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, edited by Lawrence Harrison and Samuel Huntington. This important book says that economic development never really exists outside culture; no matter how hard we try to pretend to the contrary. This suggests that many of Florida's observations may be pointing us in the right direction....more info

  • First-rate analysis
    This is an extremely interesting, thoroughly researched book that will generate considerable discussion. It is filled with statistics and thus can be slow going at times. Nonetheless, it is a huge contribution to popular understanding of early 21st century U.S. life. It will take its place alongside David Brooks's "Bobos in Paradise" and Daniel Pink's "Free Agent Nation" as classic accounts of the age in which we live....more info
  • a relic of the bubble economy
    This book was conceived during the 1990s when the high-tech bubble economy caused a labor shortage which made it possible for recent college grads with the right "hot" skills to "write their own tickets". Professor Florida wondered why Pittsburgh, his home town, was having trouble attracting high-tech talent, and graduates from local schools were choosing to move away. He found that these young, single, upper-income, well-educated people were making job choices based on geography. They wanted to live somewhere "fun" for young people. That is with amenities such as a vibrant night life, opportunities for outdoor recreation such as biking, rock climbing, etc. Thus they chose places like Austin TX with its music scene over Pittsburgh with its symphony.

    This is interesting enough, and Florida makes the connection to earlier work (especially that of Jane Jacobs) on what makes a city an "authentic" and interesting place to live.

    It is well known that as time goes on, so-called "knowledge workers" are becoming a larger and larger part of the economy. However Florida, perhaps driven to some "irrational exuberance" by the bubble economy we were living in when he was writing this, makes some pretty outlandish claims for the importance and power of this class of workers (which he calls "the creative class"). As of mid-2004, this all seems a quaint relic of 1990s "new economy" optimism.

    He also fails to address two things which have had a huge impact on the labor market in recent years:

    He mentions but does not address at any length the collapse of the high-tech bubble, and what impact this change will have on the phenomena he describes. It would seem that most of what he describes is (at least for now) no longer true, as high-tech workers can no longer pick and choose but are now in the position of being glad to find any job at all.

    He does not mention at all the phenomenon of overseas outsourcing. This may not have been a hot topic when the book was written but by the time (Fall '03) he wrote the preface to the paperback edition it was so, and he does not even mention it, despite the fact that it is at the very least having a large psychological effect on the high-tech job market....more info

  • Nobrow
    Reluctantly I must concur: this is a promising but ultimately disappointing study. I'm better versed in socio-cultural matters than the statistical-materialist approach taken by Florida to community and leisure studies. So let me just onfine myself to remarking that I wish he did not rely at all on John Seabrook's NOBROW (2000). The latter is an intellectually and analytically challenged New Yorker essay that parades as a book. Peter Swirski's FROM LOWBROW TO NOBROW is where Florida should have reached for conceptual support of his theses as regards the rise of what he terms "creative class" but what really amounts to a cross-sectin between sociological upper middle class and cultural nobrow consumers. Still, THE RISE OF CREATIVE CLASS is a bold attempt to chart the emergence of a novel socio-cultural formation and as such is worthy of attention (yes, it could do with better editing and mroe user-friendly presentation)....more info
  • Rise of the Creative Class profiles
    Richard Florida is one of the leading social techonomic cultural thinkers and authors of the current times, as important to his generation as Naisbitt (Megatrends, High Tech High Touch) and Porter (On Competition, Competitive Advantage) and Peters (Circle of Innovation, In Search of Excellence) were to theirs. Richard is also a rising star on the national lecture circuit, giving several hundred invited lectures a year.

    Whether you are looking for personal insights into the culture and prospects for the region you are living in or moving to now, or you are working to enhance your own enterprises and community, this book is for you.

    Florida has made a career out of understanding the socioeconomic chemistry that drives the knowledge age (creativity, expression, innovation, diversity, etc.) and communicating the dynamics to the rest of us in a fresh way. The Rise of the Creative Class embodies much of his research and insights into what makes some regions prosper in the knowledge age and others to wither.

    One of the cities in my region, Albuquerque, fairs very well on Florida's creativity indices for cities its size (#1). His book helps guide me in my work to interweave commerce and culture in this region, to recognize our strengths and weaknesses, to recognize and celebrate the full spectrum of peoples and expressions in the region from the arts to technologies.


    Bravo, Richard!...more info

  • Extremely interesting
    This book is a facinating look at what really makes cities tick. As someone who grew up around boston and now lives in NYC the issues about city planning that Florida (the author) talks about are extremely relevant. I wish all city planners would read this before they go knocking down old neighborhoods or insisting on funding stadiums over education. His findings about diversity and creativity also should add to the many arguments against the current trend of discrimination that seems to have re-emerged....more info
  • New Way of Life
    According to Richard Florida's "The Rise of the Creative Class", 38 million Americans belong to his newly identified group. Who are the Creative Class members and what motivates them? How and where will they live and work? Members of this mobile group want freedom, diversity, and tolerance in their neighborhoods and workplaces. At the simplest level, they crave authenticity. We, because I too am a member and agree with Florida's principles, do not want chain restaurants or cookie-cutter retail outlets. We want culture, experiences, and various lifestyle amenities. Vibrant neighborhoods that include galleries, coffee shops, and theaters are more important than professional sports teams. There is no need for separate work and social personas and the work/leisure time continuum essentially does not exist. There is a blending of work and life because creativity isn't scheduled and our workplaces offer freedom regarding time and place. Creative types will often rank job location and responsibilities over salary when it comes to choosing work and given the decrease in company loyalty over the years, many now form identities based on where they live rather than where they work. For those who want to create or save their companies or cities and recruit and retain talent (one of Florida's three T's of success, the others being technology and tolerance), this book is an essential read....more info
  • Phenomenal!
    Phenomenal! I heard a lot of talk about this book and thought it was all about arts and culture. After 10 pages I realized it had nothing to do with arts and culture and everything to do with fundamental shifts in our society and economy and how it is impacting our communities. Very insightful and thoughtful....more info
  • More of Us?
    Sure, this one's full of useful information, the statistical run-downs that support the author's points are impeccable and Richard Florida's wit is often nuanced and gray. But has Florida ever visited an advertising firm in which some of the most creative individuals on the planet are, figuratively speaking, lined up like hydrophonic tomatoes, sucked dry of their creative juices and then turned loose in the bar downstairs? That's not exactly what many would call a Renaissance, buddy.

    All said, however, only the most naive could fail to see that, like Thomas Frank's caustic and disbelieving "The Conquest of Cool" or David Brooks'seminal and sarcastic "Bobos in Paradise," "The Rise of the Creative Class" is simply another attempt by the commercialized segment of the general population to somehow connect itself to an increasingly unified, cohesive and suspicious counterculture. After reading it, in fact, you'll be tempted to make your own bumper sticker: TECHNO NIHILIST ON BOARD or BEHAVE or WORKING CLASS DICTATOR.

    In other words, those of us who have to create to keep from going insane find it difficult to trust an expanded definition of creativity that, basically speaking, warns the professional segment of the American workforce that they had better start working by extraneous means to open their minds to what, for better or worse, is defined as "the flow"--or fail miserably. Faux creativity depends on means outside the creative act to stay alive....more info

  • A good question, but no answer
    In focusing on creativity and innovation as the font of economic growth and diversification, Florida is right on. But his recommendations for recruiting creative people are the same old smokestack-chasing strategies that have caused so much conflict and disappointment.

    If Florida's question makes sense to you, read Ernesto Sirolli's Ripples from the Zambezi for a great answer on how you can foster and nurture the creativity that already exists in your community, and help people turn their ideas into viable businesses....more info

  • pseudo-intellectual crap
    This reads like an academic's attempt to achieve tenure. A lots of excerpts from other people's work, a lot of grand statements, backed (at best) by anecdotal information. Not new, not insightful, not even entertaining....more info
  • Good summary of recent social trends
    In this self-conscious new take on the mid twentieth century classic "The Organization Man", the author begins with the question of why some cities attract talented people while others lose them. In order to answer this, he goes on to explain how work, leisure, and life itself are being reorganized, none of which is really news, but he provides a good summary of what others have presented in bits and pieces.

    Among the interesting points I found was a debunking of the free agent myth (made popular in another popular, recent book), stating that for creative workers it is mucho more important to be in an environment that fosters creative work rather than independence for its own sake. It also provides a good illustration of how economic clusters (discussed in Harvard Business Review and other business publications) work, where in a self-reinforcing loop businesses come to where the talent is, which attracts even more talented people to where the jobs are, which further enhances the quality of the place, etc. The author makes it very clear that the concept of place will become even more important in the age of the WWW, not less. Finally, I found his self-described rant on how Silicon Valley linked the 1960s hippie revolution and the 1990s workplace revolution very illustrating and exciting to read.

    You should note that this book is the result of years of sociological research, and as such, it is much more descriptive than prescriptive. By stating that the creation of good jobs depends on good firms coming, which depend on the availability of good workers, which in turn are lured by such intangibles as a tolerant atmosphere and the presence of good research universities, it doesn't offer much hope to stagnant cities that don't have any of these. Perhaps the only places that are positioned to benefit the most from Florida's advice are small towns with well-established colleges and research universities. It also doesn't say much about the role of education in extending and enhancing the much-desired creative class. It is strictly oriented to cities, not to regions, states or countries, so perhaps a good subtitle to this book would be "The Wealth of Cities". In spite of this limitation, it is well worth to read....more info

  • The Rise of the Creative Class
    Reads like a professor's text. A very interesting concept (I heard the author speak on a TV show which is why I bought the book) but the book is loaded with statistics and how he came up with his hypothesis and is a drag to read. My book club read it on my advice and very few bothered to finish it. I made myself finish it and even though I bought the second book, it lays on my self unread....more info
  • Ambivalently relevant
    After receiving some insightful comments I decided to revise my review for better clarity and focus since this book seems (inexplicably to me) to continue to be taken seriously.

    This book can be, and has been, read in various ways. Some people seem to think it is simply 'descriptive' (the 'way things actually are'); Florida's continuing project, however, is one that is more 'prescriptive' in the sense he wants to give people practical advice to 'revitalize' economies. Now, this book is certainly descriptive. But the question becomes: is it a good or bad description? What this book is not, however, is 'theoretical' or 'analytic'. As I claimed in my prior review, any undergraduate student of sociology could easily call into question the merits of this book as an 'analytical' piece of argumentation.

    This is not, however, a critique of Florida's statistics--they are not at issue. As far as I know, those statistics are robust. What is at issue is whether Florida is justified in drawing the conclusions he does from them. While I am sympathetic to what he is trying to say, I don't feel that, in the end, he is justified for saying them on the basis of any cogent or sound arguments in his book.

    My main objection is that Florida doesn't have a rigorous, analytically useful definition of 'creativity', which he seems to confuse with 'innovation'. If we start by thinking of artistic creativity, technological innovation, and theoretical science all under some monolithic thing called 'creativity', we ignore the vast literature in psychology that has dealt with the nature of creativity since Margaret Boden's classic work through (what is more interesting) Csikszentmihalyi (who, I think, has more interesting practical suggestions than Florida).

    Because Florida's thesis is one that specifically wants to link creativity with the economy, something in the way of a theory telling us how the two things are linked seems to be a conditio sine qua non. (Incidentally, a similar problem befalls Joas' own theoretical 'The Creativity of Action', so I'm not saying that social theorists are automatically immune from the kinds of problems Florida faces.)

    Statistical correlations in themselves reveal nothing. Statistics require interpretation. The question then becomes: are Florida's interpreations either justified or plausible?

    But Florida himself says that "in retrospect, I could probably have written this book using no statistics at all. ... Many of my arguments could have been made as convincingly just by telling stories from my field notes and letting my human subjects and observations speak for themselves". This is perhaps the baldest statement of Florida's philosophical immaturity and/or irresponsibility.

    As far as I can tell, Florida basically superimposes his notion of 'creativity' (or 'innovation') onto a modern liberal ideology of the Emersonian 'self-reliant' individual who, as Thoreau famously said, 'marches to the beat of his own drum'. This is the ethical point that Florida is trying to drive home, which is neither unique nor particularly interesting in itself. Of course there are people who 'go against the trend' and want to 'set trends' instead of 'follow' them. This drive for individuality might certainly mean that these people are 'creative' in a sense, but that sense is so vacuous and general as to be analytically useless (or, in other words, not everyone who wants to 'be an individual' is 'creative' in any interesting or analytically useful sense).

    From this idea of 'creative people', Florida proceeds to make claims like 'creative people want to live in diverse, open, and tolerant communities'. Of course these kinds of communities not only attract individualistic people, but also foster an outpouring of creativity. Locke knew this in the 17th century; more famously, Mill knew it in the 19th century; and the Catholic Church has known it since the time of St. Augustine's polemics against the Donatists. As far as this point goes, what Florida says is banal.

    So suggestions like 'creative people like tolerant communities' aren't particularly stunning. Whether it is from a genuine ignorance of the history of political and social thought or from an attempt to disguise what is commonplace under new vocabulary as a 'new discovery' I do not know. It is also for this reason that one might have reason to be suspicious of the various ways in which people are trying to 'verify' Florida's characterization of the 'creative class'.

    In the natural sciences, it was Heisenberg who showed that one and the same observation can be 'correctly' described by one or more (possibly contradictory) theories. This is even obviously more true in the so-called social and psycholgical sciences. When one looks at a social or psychological phenomenon from within one set of terms and vocabulary, what gets observed (the object) gets channeled into those terms. This is not the same as saying that one sees what one chooses to see. Obviously, I can believe that my neighbors are monkeys, but that doesn't mean that they will actually be monkeys when I look at them. But if I decide in advance that they are antisocial people, I can interpret the fact I never see them during the day as being characteristic of their antisociality. Of course, they may be people who work at night and sleep during the day. Neither explanation excludes the other. My neighbors might both sleep during the day and also be antisocial. Of course, further 'research' would help me to discover all this about them, but that is not the point of this example. The point is that 'empirical verification' of the kind of thing Florida is trying to say is one that is not unique to his own work, but he shows no real concern either for dispelling some people's (such as myself) qualms about it nor, for that matter, any awareness that the problem exists in the first place if he believes that you can prove a point by telling ancedotal stories and reflecting, musing, and hum-hawing about things and expecting others to believe your thoughts deserve serious attention because of the letters "Ph.D."

    This is not the place to engage in a questioning of what it means to have a social science, and my point is not to do so. Note again (in the quotation above) that Florida thinks he could have 'argued' (in scare quotes) his point without numbers. That point is to define a new social 'class'. Neither is it the place for me to argue in detail about why I think Florida's definition of his 'creative class' fails as a useful analytic category (anyone who has read Weber would, I think, agree with me even if we don't agree with Weber). Now, one must either have a high estimation of one's own genius and originality (Wittgenstein could get away with this) or a great deal of naivete to attempt such a thing without acknowledging the prior history involved in the very notion of a social 'class'. (I will say, however, that it is entirely one thing to talk about the ways in which some people behave and describe social trends on the one hand and then, on the other, to form on the basis of these descriptions, the notion of a social *class*. People keep saying that interviews with so-called 'creative people', etc, are 'verifying' what Florida says about the 'creative class'. It is one thing to find characteristics of creativity in people and quite another to say that there is something that can (therefore) be called a 'creative class'.)

    Certainly, this does not stop this book from being useful to, e.g., local and regional economic planners. I never wanted to say this book is not useful. But as Florida himself notes, anything can be useful, depending on the attitude and end one has in mind.

    In short, I would say that the book is certainly 'provocative' in that it raises interesting questions to be thought out and perhaps researched farther. Certainly some of what Florida says is true. But one can have true premises and reason to a false conclusion; one can also have a true conclusion but reason invalidly from false premises. Florida does both of these.

    As other reviewers have noted, the data Florida presents is interesting in itself. But reading this book for the data would confine you to the appendices. For that reason I'm somewhat at a loss as to whom this book might be relevant. It doesn't really merit serious attention as a social theory; I'm not aware of any really earthshattering statistical analysis that might be of interest to quantitative sociologists; and the lack of sound reasoning makes this book inappropriate for general readers who are not already predisposed to believe anything they see in print merely for the fact that someone decided to publish this book (in other words, you'll be thoroughly convinced that Florida is right if you already agree with him, but if you're skeptical, there's nothing in the way of sound argumentation to convince you that he's right)....more info
  • "Demonstates how creative types shape our communities"
    This book has had a tremendous buzz around it since it was published earlier this year, and has sold well in the Birmingham area. And that makes sense, because according to Florida's book, more and more people are living like traditional creative types such as artists and writers, and that shapes our communities and economies. Birmingham actually scores well in national rankings of "creative cities."
    ...more info
  • If you buy into the premise you may need to think again
    Creativity, innovation, and the future are all three topics that generate tremendous interest and angst. Florida's book is a good look at the issue of creativity, economic growth and personal advancement. The arguement that creative people will increasingly garner a greater share of the economic pie in a world of commoditization is appealing. And that is its problem.

    Individually, each of us believes that we are bright, whitty, interesting and very creative. Each believes that we should garner part of the value and live the life of the creative class.

    Unforutnatley few of us are that interesting or really that creative. And here Florida's book appeals to the Narcissist in all of us. The book adopts a real elitest tone separating between the creative and the mindless prouls. If you follow his conclusions you find a world competing for attention -- like reality shows on TV. Wait, maybe Florida is right and I am just not creative enough to see it.

    This is a good book to understand the trends shaping the economy and our personal life ...more info
  • Lots of data, not much focus
    The key concept of this book is the existence of a new Creative Class. Richard throws into the Creative Class almost everybody and groups them in two categories: the Super Creative Core and the "creative professionals". These two groups include: scientists, professors, poets, novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, architects, non-fiction writers, editors, cultural figures, researchers, analysts, programmers, engineers, filmmakers, financial services, legal and health care professionals, business management and the list goes on. The problem is that the definition of this class is so loose. Even Richard admits that the definition is not really clear, but he goes on discarding the importance of rigour. A class must have political alignment as an expression of a common ground in the way wealth is created and distributed. It should be reflected in the way people vote; otherwise the class does not make sense. It is difficult to convince anyone that you can put these people in the same class: engineers and artists, accountants and actors.

    The book uses shocking statistics and quotes and then follows through with flashy language to wrap up a nicely packaged chapter. The problem is that the book has enough time to loose the reader after seemingly never ending debates. This book has so much information and so little structure. All those tables are useless because they do not support a coherent system of principles or story. The writing is difficult to read and very repetitive. After the first fifty pages the same arguments are being rotated again and again: creativity is important, the time of agriculture has passed, the heavy industry is not important for global leadership, there is tension between individual freedom and corporation rigidity, etc.

    In describing the new class, Richard Florida observes that "Fewer than one-quarter of all Americans (23.5 percent) accounted for by the 2000 Census lived in a 'conventional' nuclear family, down from 45 percent in 1960. This is social group is mentioned many times in the book. By contrast, the family social group is almost completely ignored. I have the impression that this is actually the creative class and all these indexes (Bohemian, Single, Gay, etc) match quite well the group's dynamics.

    I gave this book a two stars rating purely on style and clarity and overall coherence of the book. I think that regardless of the political affiliation, the reader will have genuine difficulty in following the book from the beginning to the end. For instance, in discussing the transformations of every day life, in a polemic with other authors Richard says:

    "Juxtaposed to this view are those who believe technology and unbridled market forces are making us work harder and faster, leaving us less time to enjoy each other and out interests, destroying human connections and damaging our neighbourhoods and communities. If the techno-utopians romanticize the future, these techno pessimists glorify the past. Unfettered hypercapitalism is leading to the end of work and the demise of high paying, secure jobs, according to social critics like Jeremy Rifkin. Worse yet, the elimination of such jobs destroy an important source of social stability, argues Richard Sennett, casting people adrift, corroding our collective character and damaging the very fibre of society. The workplace is evolving into an increasingly stressful and dehumanizing "white-collar sweatshop" in Fill Fraser's view, beset by long hours and chronic overwork. In the eyes of cultural critic Tom Frank, business has become an all-powerful and hegemonic cultural force, as entities like MTV and The Gap turn alternative-culture symbols into money making devices. Neighbourhoods, cities and society as a whole are losing the strong sense of community and civic-minded spirit that were the source of our prosperity, argues Robert Putnam. In his nostalgia for a bygone era of VFW halls, bowling leagues, Cub Scout troops and Little League, Putnam contends that the demise of these repositories of `social capital' is the source of virtually all of our woes..."

    If you were able to read the text above without losing your concentration and you remembered what started it, then you might be able to read the book and even like it. Otherwise you will probably find that after you read page after page you realise your thoughts were wondering somewhere else. You come back, re-read those pages, only to find you lost your thoughts again.
    ...more info
  • Book Hound
    Author Florida may have set a record for the number of times a nonfiction writer can repeat the same handful of thoughts and still get published. To the prospective reader with an interest in the purported subject, my suggestion is to read any 5 randomly chosen pages of Florida's work, and move on to the next item on your reading list, being assured that most of the material of the remaining 399 pages was, if not exhaustively covered, at least mentioned.

    In defense of his thesis, Florida gamely gives "nano-presentations" of the thoughts of his critics and generally dismisses them with a wave of the hand.

    Rather than repeat the points others have made on the deficiencies of this work, it seems just to redirect the rebuke Mr. Florida makes of one of the scholars with whom he disagrees. Florida's conclusions seem to simply follow the author's predilections (i.e. It seems he designs his analysis, knowing beforehand the conclusion he is going to justify - a cardinal sin according to any elementary standard of logic or academia.) and the issue of causality is never addressed with regard to the correlations so trumpeted throughout the text....more info
  • Wouldn't it be lover-ly
    This book is a big sloppy wet-kiss to the book-buying audience that this marketing project is actually targeted towards, but contains no real practical philosophy! Take it from one who lives in one of Florida's "dream-towns", (Madison, WI), it's all about self-back-patting and self-congratulating, rather than developing a real pragmatic economic philosphy. This book is like the handbook for wearing rose-colored glasses! Town's like Madison, are just that...TOWNS...NOT thriving cultural centers...just populated by those who would like to believe they are. My argument against this book IS NOT an argument against diversity (which this book cloaks itself in for maximum protection from critics), nor a critique of towns that can be nice places to live for some people, it's a critique of a marketing concept packaged in a book, designed to sell lots of books...but then again, they say you can't rape the willing! Florida's disregard for history and the role that "creatives" have played in Western civilization is disconcerting....more info
  • Insightful!
    The good news is, Richard Florida's book recognizes the growing economic and sociological impact of creativity. The bad news is that in just two years, it has lost some of its gloss. The collapse of the bull market, the popping of the bubble, the 9/11 trauma, each took some shine off of the creative economy, with its casual dress days, flexible schedules and free rides. But even though this appraisal occasionally sounds quaint, we believe that the book's faith in the transforming economic and social power of creativity, its broad view, and its excellent references and quotations make it worth recommending....more info
  • Leaves us hanging
    This book presents an interesting concept but the author doesn't tell us what to do with this information. He suggests that the "creative class" must become conscious of their identity as a class and begin to act in concert, but he doesn't outline a method for doing this. One would think that he would want to provide a platform for the unification and interaction of a class which he has identified.

    The author suggests that municipalities would be wise to structure their geography to attract creative class individuals. Another approach, which he does not consider, would be a strategy to develop more creative class individuals from the resident population. Unlike other natural resources, which are finite, creative class capital can be generated by educational opportunities and personal development.

    An interesting thought occurred to me while reading this book: Dr. Florida describes creative class individuals as uninterested in group conformity. Meanwhile, the major political parties become increasingly polarized and intolerant of dissent within the ranks, sidelining independent-thinking "moderates." Thus public policy is being developed by parties who have driven the creative class out from their midst. This, more than anything, may be the most critical issue for the creative class to confront....more info

  • Interesting topic but tough to read
    This book was recommended to me by an acquaintance a few weeks ago...I'm glad they mentioned it.

    The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (Paperback) by Richard Florida is an informative book that covers A LOT of ground and has A LOT of data....but not as much "information" as I would have expected. Let me explain.

    The premise of this book is that society today is that a new Creative Class exists and is driving the way we live today. Florida uses this creative class to explain why societal changes and patterns of living as well as why some cities are more attractive than others (e.g., Silicon Valley vs Oklahoma City).

    The question behind much of the research for the book is:

    How do we decide where to live and work? What really matters to us in making this kind of life decision? How has this changed - and why?

    This is an interesting question...and one that Florida tries to answer throughout the book by using statistics, quotes from other authors and a good deal of words.

    The first 3/4's of the book is dedicated to describing the Creative Class, how they live and work and why they are different from their 'parents'. There is a ton of data and a lot of time is spent by Florida quoting research, arguing against other theorists and using statistics to "make his case" that the Creative Class is the most important class of our time. During this portion of the book, Florida makes the argument that there is a strong correlation between those cities/regions that are more tolerant and the number of creative class works that live and work in the area.

    One interesting section of the book describes the changing work environment that is making it possible for people to set their own schedules, work from home and be much less constrained by the old '8 to 5' mentality that has been a part of American business for so long.

    The last quarter of the book describes how cities and regions have developed themselves into a magnet for the creative class. Florida states that in order for a city (or region) to become a 'creative class' magnet, they must have the "3T's of Economic Development"...Technology, Talent and Tolerance. A brief description of each follows.

    * Technology - a city/region much have the technological infrastructure in place to fuel a creative and entrepreneurial culture.
    * Talent - A city/region must have a talented and highly educated workforce
    * Tolerance - A city/region much have a high tolerance level and not try to force people to 'fit in'

    The topic of the book was interesting to me but the delivery was somewhat confusing and poorly constructed. Many times I got lost in the middle of a paragraph and had to start over...this from a guy who reads many many books a year on various topics. I'm used to reading dry material...but this was worst than most.

    Chapters 6 through 9 are probably the most interesting and descriptive of the book. These chapters describe the reasons behind why people in my generation (and those younger than me) are looking for more than 'just a job' and why many people are tiring of the '8 to 5' experience.

    With that said, I would still recommend this book to those folks interested in the topic of economic development, regional development, city planning or just a general review of social science literature. If you pick up this book, take my advice and skim it rather than read every word...there is a lot of "stuff" that isn't relevant to the overall message of the book. ...more info
  • Interesting Study of the Creative Class
    I originally picked up Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class thinking it would be a good business read - particularly with the subtitle, How it's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. While the book proved to be more academic than I'd planned (re: multiple charts and graphs of population statistics and research findings), Florida did peak my interest with his theories on the Creative Class and how it has affected the economy, society and class structures.

    Florida's tome was inspired by his work in urban planning...specifically, in trying to understand why once-successful cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit struggle to regain their past glories despite numerous attempts at improvement. The answer lies in the rise of the Creative Class, which values investments in R&D, the arts, and education rather than sports stadiums and strip malls.

    Florida asserts that creativity has emerged as the single most important source of economic growth. The Creative Class behind this growth values individuality, meritocracy and diversity; creative communities take root and thrive when 3 things are present: technology, talent and tolerance. That is why communities like Cambridge, MA, and Silicon Valley have experienced boom times in recent years. Florida recounts social constructs throughout the years, like the bourgeoisie of the 50s that favored hard work, the bohemians of the 60s and 70s which favored play, and today's Creatives who recognize that life is an elusive mix of work and play. Creativity can not be turned on and off, and is not limited to the hours between 9 and 5. Thus we've seen more relaxed work environments and flexible working hours.

    He quotes Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Fogel: "Today, people are increasingly concerned with what life is all about. That was not true for the ordinary individual in 1885 when nearly the whole day was devoted to earning the food, clothing, and shelter needed to sustain life." (p. 82) Homo Creativus is more tolerant and more liberal because material conditions allow it and social conditions demand it. Today, the content of the job and nature of work environment matter more than compensation; money alone does not motivate - it's important, but so is:

    challenge and responsibility
    stable work environment
    professional development
    stimulating colleagues and managers

    People don't stay tied to companies anymore. Instead of moving up through the ranks of one organization, they move laterally from one organization to another in search of what they want (or as Florida writes, "The playing field is horizaontal and people are always on the roll." (P. 104) Much of this can be attributed to the layoffs in the '90s which broke the social contract between employers and employees: it is no longer enough that you do a good job to stay employed. In fact, at the time of the book's publication in 2002, Americans changed jobs every 3.5 years - and that figure was trending downward.

    Overall, The Rise of the Creative Class was a really interesting - if long - read; it documents a lot of principles to which my generation can relate.
    ...more info
  • A Great Reference Point for Creative Thinking.
    This is quite a good book if a little over written - some of the key points could be made in less space. The core arguments are well presented and supported by some clever analysis and related knowledge.

    It does not provide a ready made answer to the issue of what and where makes creativity or creates wealth - it does provide logical and detailed evidence and reference points that are valuable to allow you to make your own decisions. More than worth the cost if you ever have to make decisions on where to locate a business or your family, or want to make changes to your local community that is not creating the wealth that makes any place a better place to live....more info

  • for those who follow trends and those who make them...
    For regional economist and planner Richard Florida, the future of our cities are about harnessing the technological and social trends that are allowing larger numbers of people in the creative class to prosper as they become more innovative in the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. This book is of particular importance to the urban context because it identifies closely with a particular location, culture and lifestyle and it values the diversity found within a particular area. Florida's analysis also seeks to understand the new social reality that technology has created, even as it has redefined our relationships to work and society. It is also optimistic in that it anticipates the changes that innovation, creativity and technology will bring to cities, which will result in a more economically competitive and socially diverse region. While this book will be most relevant for upwardly mobile individuals and communities and those who cater to them, it does not adequately address the growing disparities between the haves and the have-nots. However, it is a valuable contribution to the growing body of literature that bridge popular culture and economic trends. Recommended...more info
    This guy is boring. Yes, he has some terrific ideas, but he apparently has never heard of editing. We, the general public, do not need to know his every slightest thought and nuance. This is 400+ pages of appendices, notes, tables upon tables. I really DID want to know what the author has to say. But, as another reviewer suggested, read about every fifth page and you'll get the basic information you need. If, Mr. Florida could find a popular book editor, instead of a college textbook editor, he would have a hit and be the darling of every art town wannabe....more info
  • The Importance of Place
    I highly recommend this book. As a professional who cares deeply about the survival of his own urban area, I found this book an indispensable and provocative read. I do have some reservations (below), but, nonetheless, recommend this book to anyone who cares about the future of cities. More detailed review follows.

    Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class tells two stories. First, Florida tells the story of an emergent social class comprised of people engaged creatively in the workplace. Because creativity qua capital is the most critical resource in the new economy - as opposed to more traditional sources of capital such as land and natural resources - the "creative class" wields considerable influence in transforming societal norms. The societal transformations ushered in by the creative class are, in fact, means to further nurture and support creativity. Everything from a looser dress code to the postponement of marriage and family can be viewed as reflections of the needs and wants of people actively engaged in creative pursuits.

    After detailing this emergent class - and identifying this class as the vanguard of economic growth in the 21st century - Florida instructs regions on how best to attract and maintain the creative class. Cities and regions would do well, Florida insists, on accommodating the needs and wants of the creative class. Places that offer a diverse array of authentic experiences and a tolerant attitude toward different lifestyles will excel in attracting creative workers. Inherent in this argument is that place - more than ever - is the key determinant in fomenting creativity, and, by association, economic growth.

    In the first part of the book, where he expounds upon the makeup of the creative class, Florida pulls together a great amount of scholarship from many different disciplines on economic and societal change. This, in itself, is impressive and the book serves as an indispensable repository for the current academic discourse on societal transformation in the post-industrial, post-modernist world. More importantly, Florida gives creative workers much needed attention and recognition. More than just a fringe group of R&D specialists and street performers, Florida convincingly argues that creative workers are the economic leaders and accurate barometers for social change. Although his definition of creative worker might be a bit expansive (30 percent of the workforce), this does not diminish the argument that these workers have influence far beyond what many recognize.

    The Rise of the Creative Class is strongest, however, when Florida is on more familiar ground; that is, when Florida, the regional economist, can expound upon the importance of place in attracting and nurturing creative talent. Much of his discussion in this section revolves around the importance "Three T's"- Technology, Talent and Tolerance. Cities with a robust combination of these factors are leading creative centers. Florida's thesis is buttressed by his own rigorous statistical analysis as well as statistical analysis of others based on Florida's observations.

    A couple notes of criticism and caution. First, Florida's economic history discussion - all of economic history is a means to harness creativity - is unwieldy and an unnecessary whitewash. This discussion slows the trajectory of his argument and it could be argued that this condensed historical discussion cuts against his general argument that this is a period of singular economic and social change. Also, Florida shifts the focus from city to region a bit too freely. Florida is clear that a vital urban core is a necessary component to a region's attractiveness to the creative class; however, the book falls short of a serious discussion about the critical relationship between core and suburbs. Reading this book with an eye to rejuvenate the urban core, I felt a greater recognition of the struggle for resources between the core and the suburbs was necessary - especially in resource-poor regions. Too often, Florida assumes a natural symbiosis between the two.

    That said the book is a must-read for those who care about the future of their cities and regions. The book is certainly provocative and Florida never pulls punches - he even goes after the vaunted Robert Putnam. Although briefly acknowledging the pitfalls of the creative class's social influence, I think it is safe too say that Florida is a cheerleader for the social changes ushered in by the creative class. I'm much less sanguine. The lifestyle demanded by the creative economy - the blurring of work and personal space and the diminished focus on family - could be the creative class's undoing.
    ...more info
  • This book resonates
    Much of this book is spent on demonstrating how Mr. Florida's ''creative economy'' is reshaping society, not as is commonly believed the other way around. It's a bit of a kick-in-the-pants for the holier-than-thou family values crusaders who chastise gays and others who don't fit into their perfect world. It goes on to provide a strong argument that diversity is the breeding ground of creativity and therefore the bedrock of our economy.
    Mr. Florida presents plenty of research, antidotes, personal experiences and astute observations throughout the book, and he oftentimes had me looking up, gazing at nothing in particular while pondering how the new information I was taking had indeed already taken root in my own life. It was almost an interactive experience.
    This book won't change your life but it will help you understand why and how life itself is changing....more info
  • Talent, Technology & Tolerance >>> Creative Class
    Building on Peter Drucker's concept of the "Knowledge Worker," Richard Florida brings us "The Creative Class." This book uses research to show how economically and culturally vibrant areas have the following factors:

    * Talent (Educated and Creative Workers)
    * Technology (Through Major Research Universities)
    * Tolerance (For Difference and New Ideas)

    Since innovation is the new holy grail of economics, creative areas are the most prosperous. Florida's top ten creative class cities in order are: Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Raleigh-Durham, Portland OR, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Sacramento, Denver. He considers 38 million worker, or 30% of the workforce, to be creative class workers. Creative class jobs include engineering, computer science, education, arts, design, and entertainment.

    These cities tend to value creative self-expression, diversity, vibrant street life, ethnic foods, artists, entrepreneurs, bike paths, nature, risk taking, modernity, open communication, bohemia, and authenticity. Creative class workers tend to have many informal social ties, and their work requires creativity, change, flexibility and speed. (Creative people work many hours. I can attest to this.)

    Perhaps I like this book because it ranks my city, Minneapolis, #7. And I like visiting the other highly ranked cites. Certainly the book has a class orientation from the get-go, and I can see how this concept can be offensive. The book could also be considered an assault against traditional values. Nevertheless, this is one of my favorite books and it all makes sense to me. For one thing, it helped me understand why I like where I live.

    An interesting follow-up would be to measure the happiest cities.

    A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future...more info
  • A mish-mash of buzzwords and 19th century thinking.
    A mish-mash of buzzwords and 19th century thinking.

    I want my money back.

    Do you love large population centers? Do you attribute human characteristics to them and view them as living organisms? If the answer is YES, then this is the book for you!

    However, if you're expecting anything deeper than what could accurately be described as a paperback romance novel about the wonder and majesty of the mega-city, you will be sorely disappointed. If you are expecting to gain any kind of valuable economic insight, or to perhaps catch a glimpse of what the future holds, this book will leave you flat.

    Florida constantly contradicts himself and, through the use of ridiculous buzz words, attempts to paint a picture of the future that looks surprisingly like the past.

    As we all know, the rise of the mega-city as a vital port of trade fueled their growth throughout much of this century. As we also know, the new economy is increasingly decentralized due to technological innovation. Florida stands this simple conventional wisdom on its head, and discounts the importance of real goods and value added services in a vain attempt to glorify the value of the "creative" importance of areas of the country simply because they have a high population density.

    While the street painters and mimes of NYC may find this notion comforting or somehow romantic, it over vastly overstates their contribution to the real economy and GDP growth.

    If you've ever wondered: Why concern ourselves with the 8% Wall Street contributes to GDP when we've got SO MUCH "innovation" on Broadway? Stop reading and buy this book now!

    OTOH, If that sounds nonsensical (as it should) then at least check out Florida's article in The Atlantic titled "How the Crash Will Reshape America" before waving good bye to your hard earned cash.

    The trudge through all 5 boring, contradictory pages is basically a summary of this book.

    You're welcome. ...more info
  • Nice idea but ivory tower view
    This book is basically a bloated, out of touch, academic thesis with a good premise all of us alienated corporate blocked creative types would love to believe. If you look closely at Florida's prose, anyone who has a random penchant for a "new thought" is consolidated into this new creative class which seems to me to include too many security conscious treacly liberals who think building an opera house in the overly controlled town square is an expression of social consciousness and creativity. There is no distinction regarding sustainable, honestly intelligent creative ideas and middlebrow attempts to jump on the creative bandwagon. This book seems to be attempting to mainstream creativity in the broadest spectrum possible to grate a theme. Also, he needs to do more research: his paragraph on the demographics of brooklyn/nyc neighborhoods is a decade out of date. He stated young people gravitate to Park Slope, Williamsburg, East Village, etc. and once they get more upwardly mobile, move to the Upper West Side to raise their young. Park Slope is a mecca (since '95) for families and upper incomes. Park Slope has gotten quite suburban and it is expensive to live here. It is not, any longer, a place where you see green hair and just out of college displays of bohemian angst. I think Mr. Florida's book makes for an intersting discussion, but I feel he is writing it from an ivory tower and hasn't done his investigative street journalism work. The charts are ridiculous, and I have lived in at least a few of the cities he's mentioned, and his descriptions seem coerced to fit his thesis to me....more info
  • The Cognitive Elite: Now you see it; now you don't
    Possibly anyone who wrote a book on the yCreative Classy just before 2003 should be exempt from critical review y just like anyone who wrote an investment guide in 1928, or a colonial government primer in 1775. But yThe Rise of the Creative Classy has recently been reissued in paperback, is frequently quoted by ambitious politicians, and is still being touted by its author. Therefore, it matters that we re-examine its contents carefully.

    Richard Floridays thesis is that there is a niche group of society, which over the past century has grown to become a separately identifiable class in its own right, distinguishable from the Working Class or the Service Sector Class or the almost-disappeared class of agricultural workers. This is different from saying that todayys better-educated workers need less direct supervision, or that many jobs vary more in content from day to day than used to be the case.

    The author struggles mightily to define the nearly one-third of the population that he calls ycreativey as a valid class. He proposes definitions, backs up a couple of pages later, corrects his proposal, and starts off down another path. The result is more of an out loud conversation with himself than a clearly delineated model. There are no neat conclusions here.

    The book uses both published sources and the authorys own research to identify the characteristics of his new class: who they are and what motivates them. Sometimes the sources are of doubtful value.

    One has to wonder why he would turn to his public policy students at prestigious Carnegie Mellon University to find out why highly-paid manufacturing jobs are no longer attractive to young blue-collar workers. A stroll through any of Pittsburghys poorer neighborhoods would surely have elicited a more sensible and substantive response than that such jobs were yinsufficiently creativey.

    Similarly, the book quotes an Information Week magazine survey of high-tech workers on what mattered to them. Florida reads the low rating of stock options as a motivator to mean that respondents valued ycreative worky more than money. As one of those respondents, I can tell you that we were simply saying that the declining stock market had rendered all our options worthless. We were tired of being paid in funny money.

    A core point in the bookys thesis is that ycreative workersy deliberately move to ydiverse, open, toleranty regions and that ycreative companiesy follow them there y a reverse of the earlier pattern of workers going to where the jobs were. This is one of the many patterns Florida tries to pin down, but which squirm under his microscope. San Francisco follows the pattern, but pleasantly homogenous, middle-class Austin, TX is a high-tech Mecca, while funky, artistic, open, tolerant, diverse New Orleans lags.

    Tolerant of whom, by whom? Florida points out that there is a negative correlation between ynon-whitesy and ycreative classy companies. The best leading indicator is the presence of a gay community. But is it surprising or meaningful, that the most affluent areas of the country are frequently home to double-male-income, no-kids households? Surely, this datum isnyt enough to define a new class?

    Dr Florida assumes y as did most of us y that 2002 represented the nadir of the US economy and that we were rapidly returning to a more ynormaly job situation. In retrospect, we were all wrong, but what can one say about the yCreative Classy thesis with the benefit of hindsight? Letys quote, as the book does, Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, the quintessential ycreative classy leader of the time:

    yKeep your tax incentives and highway interchanges; we will go where the highly skilled people are.y

    Most recently, this same CEO has angrily declared her yrighty to move those same jobs to a tax-shelter in funky, artistic y. Bangalore. If a million jobs can be re-categorized overnight from yCreative Classy to commodity yService Sectory, were they ever really part of a yCreative Classy at all?

    ** Dr Florida has created a web site that can legitimately be regarded as an informal addendum to the book: ....more info

  • proposed solutions to improving the upper middle class
    Mr. Florida's book, which I saw discussed on C-SPAN2's "Book TV," is different from its contemporary relatives (e.g. Brooks's "Bobos in Paradise," Epstein's "Snobbery," and Queenan's "Balsamic Dreams") because it is grounded firmly in empirical research. Florida's primary aim is not commentary, social criticism (scathing or otherwise), or complaint, but factual study and problem-solving.

    The preponderance of data charts and tables in this book may give the appearance of academic cluelessness, which is one of its least attractive qualities considering the 'real world' business audience for which it is targeted. However, the reader cannot neglect the evidence behind Florida's findings that creativity, tolerance, and enterprise are inextricably linked. In addition, some cities' residents have taken issue with the book's various indices (rankings, a la "U.S. News & World Report") of Bohemianism and entrepreneurial activity, though there really is no need to feel slighted by one's place on such lists (especially when the criteria of measurement were chosen appropriately).

    Despite these less popular aspects of the book, Florida's contribution still emerges a winner because he is so forward-looking in his characterization of the 38 million-strong "creative class," whereas other authors are still busy taking potshots at its collective idiosyncrasies. I believe that the business world, especially human resources departments, can benefit immensely from this book, and that the working conditions for our middle class can greatly improve by drawing on Mr. Florida's inclusiveness-minded recommendations. CEOs and their kin, still worrying about "who moved their cheese," ought to check this volume out instead....more info

  • Solid Explanation of Changes in Our Society
    The Rise of the Creative Class is a solid explanation of many of the changes going on in our society. In defining the concept of the Creative Class, Richard Florida provides an effective way to discuss the behaviors and trends of middle-class Americans.

    The central idea of the book is presented in Chapter 9, "The Big Morph (A Rant)." In this chapter, Florida proposes that neither a traditional "Protestant" work ethic nor a Bohemian artistic ethic is an appropriate model for understanding the lifestyles of modern professionals. By understanding the Creative Class on its own terms (instead of according to past models of success), business and government leaders can make better decisions about how to build strong organizations and communities.

    The rest of the book provides extensive research leading to and supporting these conclusions, show that the ideas Florida presents are not only reasonable, but also grounded in fact....more info

  • Creative Class
    Richard Floridays book, yThe Rise of the Creative Classy, provides readers with some interesting ideas about economic and social growth. Throughout the book, Florida relates economic growth to creativity and diversity, without one, you may not have the other. In addition, he identifies 3 Ts as necessary for growth: technology, talent and tolerance. While planning for the future, cities no only have to look at economic development, but must look at the climate the city provides for the arts. Recently moving from South Dakota, one of the areas Florida describes as have high social capital but lacking economic growth, Floridays ideas about fostering an environment in which creativity thrives ring true. Economic development does not mean acquiring a chain restaurant, but it should include developing an authentic local environment that allows creativity to flourish.

    Many criticize Floridays use of the Bohemian Index and Gay Index (however well it correlates to economic growth), citing the information does not apply to the majority of middle class Americans. The paperback edition of Floridays book contains a preface where the author points out that the creative environment is not limited to a city itself, but a region that allows people to live in the environment that suits them the best, i.e. Silicon Valley and San Francisco together provide an environment to growth. I do, however, find Florida's diversity ranking a bit lacking. Honolulu, one of the most diverse areas I have lived in, does not seem very diverse, because Asians and Pacific Islanders were considered as one racial/ethnic group....more info

  • A good gift for rural planners and Chamber-of-Commerce types
    I live in a small rural town in northeastern PA -- close enough to NYC and Philadelphia that some brave souls actually commute to the cities, but still mostly farmland and summer camps. In the past few years, there's been a conversation going on about how to ensure the economic health of the area. Some folks belive that we need to lure factories and manufacturing plants to provide jobs, even if they bring along adverse quality-of-life effects. Others (like me) hold the viewpoint that if we can maintain a pleasant quality of life, creative people will be attracted to the area who bring in cashflow without concomitant high ecological impacts - for example, consultants, artists, writers, and the like.

    This book basically makes my case, and backs it up with data. I'm planning on buying a copy for every board member of the local Economic Development Corporation and the honchos at the Chamber of Commerce.
    ...more info
  • Fad book for the masses
    If you've written a positive review here, you're probably one of the 38 million (how elite, basically 1/7 of the adult population) Americans who is a member of Richard Florida's Creative Class. Pat yourself on the back. You have new ideas. And you probably live in one of the creative cities - NYC, Austin, San Francisco... Fun for you. Now if government politicians would just pay attention to you - as if they don't already! - things would be even better!

    But this is all bunk. Richard Florida hasn't written a path-breaking new book. He's repacked some ideas in some cute catch phrases and smartly marketed that book to... the 38 million people who like to think they're hip, creative, and cosmpolitan.

    Actually, though, many of the cities that make it into his top 10 are, in fact, losers when it comes to domestic migration trends. San Francisco and New York, for instance, have been losing people to other, lower-cost destinations. (These cities only avoid being net losers because of immigration of lower-skilled, lower-paid workers from abroad.)...more info

  • Imaginary History
    Richard Florida's thesis -- rising creativity as elixer of prosperity -- is astonishingly uninformed about American history. His attempt to reduce creativity to occupational counts from the census is misleading in the extreme. Consider, for instance, the inginuity in people like Eli Whitney, John Ireland Howe, or John D. Rockefeller None of the three would have fallen within a "creative" occupation on Florida's telling. Yet each of the three illustrates the kind of creativity which creates wealth for society....more info


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