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

The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida
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Aug 15, 2011

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bookshelves: business, nonfiction, social-science
Read from August 10 to 15, 2011

The basic thesis of the book is that diverse, tolerant, creative urban centers attract people of the same disposition. It is those people who are the driving force of the economy and their desired lifestyle dictates their choice of city and ultimately their choice of occupation. Their lives are no longer dictated by their jobs like in the days of the Organization Man in the Grey Flannel Suit.

At the beginning of the book, I found myself agreeing with Florida's every word. Yet as the book progressed, he presented the same tired argument over and over. Not only that, but he presented the same graphs over and over. Or, they weren't the same graphs, but they looked exactly the same aside from the labeling of the x and y indexes. Now I have a thorough understanding that members of the creative class have been increasing over the last 40 years. I also understand there is a correlation though not causation between tech companies, homosexuality, bohemians, and immigration in major cities.

For an academic book, the facts were arguably quite soft. I will usually overlook soft science for a book that is accessible to the public at large. However, I would not even call this book accessible because even though it says "National Bestseller" on the title, I doubt this book received high readership outside of those core creative cities he already praises so highly. I doubt the book had high readership in Stockton CA, Amarillo TX, Yuma AZ or Myrtle Beach SC. (Note: these cities were taken from Appendix B table 1 listing cities and their ranks on the creativity index compared to tech sector, tolerance level and wage gap. These cities were listed among the lowest, and therefore, most lame).

I find it quite likely that this book was well received in Austin TX, San Francisco CA, Seattle WA and New York NY (some cities he lists as creative centers for their music, ethnic diversity, youth oriented culture, public outdoor spaces, acceptance of alternative lifestyles, etc. i.e. cities that are awesome). Perhaps I only agreed with this book's thesis because I work in an industry on the cusp of service and creative class (I'm a chef, you tell me) and live in the city he lists as a harbinger of the new age and economic system. No matter what, I could only read this book with a biased eye.

"Fuck yeah the Mission District is awesome!" I thought.

"Fuck yeah OpenSource software!" I thought later.

There was no way to turn a blind eye to the bias presented in the book. The author is from Pittsburg (which ranks 90 on the index and is ultimately more lame than San Francisco or Austin). Though he offers necessary advice that cities need to reform as creative centers first in order to attract talent, youth and economic vitality, he does so in a way that expresses what can practically be described as contempt for the unwillingness to deviate from traditional middle class values and suburban lifestyles. "Your sports teams and symphonies and opera won't bring in needed revenue for the city because that's not what people actually care about anymore" he states. "You need to invest in public parks, research based universities and all the best local culture."

I was accepting of this idea, but I'm pretty sure that's because I live in an area where it is cool to be alternative. But this book shouldn't be written for me or anyone who tries to foster the ideas of this book in their own lives. This book needs to find an audience in areas where the ideas are unpopular and counter-intuitive. I fear it will never find an audience in those areas where it is needed most.

Even though this was a necessary argument, it did not need to be made in a book. It could have been more effective magazine article for brevity is indeed the soul of wit.
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Reading Progress

08/12/2011 page 134
32.0% "Was not expecting a book that mostly talks about why San Francisco, Seattle, open source software and the no-collar workplace are awesome, but whatever."

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-1 of 1) </span> <span class="smallText">(1 new)</span>

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message 1: by Ari (new)

Ari I have to disagree with this review. I read the book in 2005 and I'm from Myrtle Beach, SC. I'm also a graphic designer.


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