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Against Creativity

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Everything you have been told about creativity is wrong

From line managers, corporate CEOs, urban designers, teachers, politicians, mayors, advertisers and even our friends and family, the message is be creative. Creativity is heralded as the driving force of our contemporary society, celebrated as agile, progressive and liberating. It is the spring of the knowledge economy
256 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Verso
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May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had to read this book, well, not literally, but once I had read the title, it became urgent. In part, this was out of a kind of perverse sense of pleasure. There are lots of books that essentially do this - they take a topic that everyone just assumes is unequivocally good - you know, motherhood, apply pie, giving a list of three examples - and then tells you all the things that are bad about that generally assumed good thing. The best part of this is that as a reader I then come to these ...more
Robert Maisey
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Against Creativity has a fine idea at its core - one that would have made an excellent long format essay or article - but sadly not a particularly good book. Even a relatively short book like this one.

The idea is thus; creativity is the act of making something new, but under the conditions of capitalism, creativity is co-opted to simply reproduce more of what the market wants and expand the sphere of the already existing power structures. Instead of creating new ways of being and seeing, it
Supriyo Chaudhuri
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerfully argued tract against commercialised creativity, which de-socialises the creative process and privileges consumption above everything else. There are good parts of the book - the section on technology is among them - and not so good parts, which reads more like an academic paper. And, as with other books like this, the attempts to outline a solution, of building creative resistance, appears optimistic and strained, compared to the eloquent description of the pervasiveness of ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A really good book that illustrates the way capitalism has commodified the idea of creativity and this can be see essentially every job posting these days. He goes through the way capitalist creativity and the creative class has effects on advertising, politics, work, technology, and, most interesting to me, housing and the city. It's a fairly quick read but worth it.
Joel Adams
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
// excellent critique of neoliberal discourse on contemporary creativity ...more
Katherine Varga
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Such a fascinating read. Many sentences blew my mind, starting with "Being creative in today's society has only one meaning: to carry on producing the status quo." I wish I had read this in college when studying global urbanization and the arts - this would've been such a great jumping off point for many of my interests. Mould covers a lot of ground - from Deafness to reality TV as politics to the pervasiveness of algorithms to the sharing economy to gentrification and "artwashing." A lot of it ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very accurate critique of creativity as a tool of capitalism and an unlikely missing point in the neoliberal agenda. Oli Mould sheds light on all the modern day phenomena that you couldn't help but feel weird about, but couldn't quite pinpoint the connection between. Gentrification, artwashing, co-working spaces, Silicon valley style startups as well as Richard Florida's creative class all get well-deserved attention here. A really good read that once again proves that we have nothing to lose ...more
Scott Folsom
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the response to Florida that I needed in 2014 when I was taking an educational technology course and had to read him. There's one quibble I have, and it's with his discursive intervention into disability studies with the figure of the "diffabled". I'm of two minds about it, both of them disapproving. First, the broader disability studies community tends to have taken the political decision that disability exists as a political class and that the label itself is value neutral, and ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oli Mould's main thesis is that creativity as we know it today under Capitalism, is so unlike the creativity we think we know. He explores the spaces of work, people, politics, technology, and the city to excavate examples, and to suggest a radical kind of creativity that destabilizes what Capitalism tries to build through its version. Along the way, Mould helps define what neoliberal ideology is, and how it uses creativity to marginalize, gentrify, speed up work, keep political control from the ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting read with a central view that creativity is being harnessed by capitalism, something that generally agree with. There are some good examples in the book to help illustrate the points made, and much of it is thought-provoking, but I found the conclusion section a bit disappointing in that it was presented as six impossible things to believe before breakfast (after a line from Alice in Wonderland), which to be honest, did seem quite impossible in some cases, so not very encouraging ...more
florence baxter
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
doesn't get five stars to make it amazing solely because i feel like he definitely could've (and probably should've) gone into more depth about what to do next, and how to actually 'stop' this neoliberal bullshit; he kinda just glazed over that at the end and idk if he purposely discussed this on such a level as to not offend anyone or like outwardly talk about supporting marxism etc but anyway he should've lol but overall just a book of truth and an important read to start the discussion
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
I really liked this. It did get boring towards the end but other than that I would recommend this book.
Austin Lim
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
The book's basic premise is that "Contemporary capitalism has commandeered creativity to ensure its own growth and maintain the centralisation and monetisation of what it generates." Each chapter looks at how capitalist creativity manifests itself in different placespolitics, work, the city, etc. Mould does a good job showing how creativity masks austerity, gentrification, competition, and other deleterious effects of neoliberalism. (I wished, though, that he'd spent more time on specific case ...more
Thomas Andrew
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I came into this book expecting to read some searing criticism of art, music, and other "creative industries." While this featured into the analysis, it feels a bit like a shallower version of the magnus opus of Boltanski and Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism.

It's well written and a great intro to the precarious nature of neoliberalism. But, I felt it's use of the term "creativity" a bit stretched. It pulls all kinds of managerial feudalistic tendencies into it including "disruptive" work
Conor Wilson
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
In many ways, this is the critique of Richard Florida's deeply problematic ideas outlined in his 2002 book 'the rise of the Creative Class'. Mould does a fantastic job of subverting how we conceive and deploy the language of creativity in our everyday life. Creativity, for Mould, is inextricable from the broader economic processes which govern our everyday life; neo-liberal capitalism. As such, creativity has been co-opted and appropriated, and used to serve market forces, with often devastating ...more
Vuk Trifkovic
Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Starts off sharply, but tricky to sustain the pace. Very good analysis of the problem, and it's a bit trickier to follow up on it. Particularly as a lot of problems were mediated through technology, which author gets, but is not quite living in the same way that, say Greenfield was. The avenue of exploring diffability is very intriguing though.

All in all, would recommend for wide reading, but perhaps just short of that four *.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a freelance copywriter and someone 100% entrenched in the creative economy, Moulds discussion on how creativity has become solely consumptive was exactly what I needed.
How is creativity being used as a tool, instead of a power?
How can we begin to rethink and challenge the ideal of flexibility?
Where is radical creative thought being assimilated into the capitalist system?
A must read for anyone in the creative field: writers, designers, illustrators, photographers, videographers...
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
The book asks the right questions about the misappropriation of creativity for monetary gain. However, the argumentation fails to convince over the length of a book. An essay might have been ample enough. The repetitious examples and arguments. Did enjoy the chapter on art's role in gentrification though!
Sam Jones
This is a book that perhaps would have been better as an essay. Despite occasionally clunky writing, the chapters on creativity in contemporary politics and urban planning/gentrification provided plenty of food for thought. I'll certainly be thinking about the ways that I can prioritize the impossible over the relentless certainty of capitalism in the coming weeks and months.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Energetic and briskly-written critical reflection on how creativity has been effectively absorbed by neoliberal capitalism, and how we might resist, reclaim, and restore creativity to the commons from whence it sprang.
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Its a testament to this bookessentially neo-Marxist theory that indicts almost every aspect of my life as lived todaythat I came away from it almost 100% convinced of its arguments. Hows that for some healthy self-loathing? ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A noteworthy read. Mould explores the capitalist creative industrys perils across multiple sectors that effect our everyday lives. ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
A governmental bureaucrat leading the crowd of stupid and lazy against anything that does not voluntary share with them the results, and even against those too.
Luis Boa
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
enjoyed the section about artwashing and gentrification
lots of thinking bits
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
There's a powerful 20-page essay to be gleaned from among these 200 pages. As a book, however, this was a tedious slog.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Misuse of then/than undermines the message of the book. Interesting discussion about gentrification which I have been luckily enough to be able to ignore.
Hailey Tomlin
rated it liked it
Apr 08, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Jul 08, 2019
Jonathan Skjøtt
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Dec 22, 2019
clare d.
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Feb 29, 2020
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Oli Mould is Lecturer in Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. His work focuses on issues of urban activism, social theory and creative resistance. He is the author of Urban Subversion and the Creative City and blogs at

aka Oliver Mould

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