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Against Creativity

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  32 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 econo
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Verso
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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 book ...more
Robert Maisey
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 crea
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
// excellent critique of neoliberal discourse on contemporary “creativity”
Somewhere along the line, creativity became safe, became mundane, became ordinary. Its ubiquity is at odds with the equally dangerous myths of creative genius – of the individual ‘superman’ (and those lionised are almost always men) with great insight and the drive to impose their will on their culture, their environment, their people. It’s a requirement in job descriptions from entry level to executive/leadership; it’s a fundamental part of business development; it’s the heart of urban regenera ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 encouragin ...more
florence baxter
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I really liked this. It did get boring towards the end but other than that I would recommend this book.
Austin Lim
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 places—politics, 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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have I just become bored by anti capitalist writing because I don’t need to be convinced? I’ve seen feminist takes on this subject that I find more accessible and intersectional (Kelly Diels is one feminist business coach that writes beautifully on the subject, or Kerri Kelly has a more strident voice). This is fine, it does take on cultural appropriation and the algorithm and artwashing and ableism very competently. But I also felt totally uninspired to do anything but not participate. (Could b ...more
Vuk Trifkovic
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  ·  review of another edition
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...
Seymour Millen
I'm not sure the rubric of creativity covers everything the author finds distasteful about the last 10 years. The concept is stretched to accommodate far too much and so has to avoid a lot of scrutiny to avoid snapping entirely. If the author wants to criticize gentrification and art-washing, so far so good: what that actually has in common with the social media industry's use of algorithms is not convincing. Half marks, rounded up for effort.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Gabriel Fockler
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found it incredibly boring and gave up halfway through. It feels like a collection of essays for grad school, with a pretty thin connective tissue. It feels like the entire book could have been condensed into a single entry in "keywords of capitalism."

I do agree with the general point of the book, i just found it very dull to read.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
It’s a testament to this book—essentially neo-Marxist theory that indicts almost every aspect of my life as lived today—that I came away from it almost 100% convinced of its arguments. How’s that for some healthy self-loathing?
Jun 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A noteworthy read. Mould explores the capitalist creative industry’s perils across multiple sectors that effect our everyday lives.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There's a powerful 20-page essay to be gleaned from among these 200 pages. As a book, however, this was a tedious slog.
Ian Plenderleith
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
A brilliantly argued manifesto for the case against commercialism in culture.
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: labour
More substantial review coming!
Justin Clark
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Against Creativity by Oli Mould is a searing critique of the ways in which neoliberal capitalism co-opts creativity for its own uses, thereby dampening our capacities for real creative pursuits. An urbanist by training, Mould is especially attune to the ways this “creative class” ideology of neoliberalism harms cities, such as street art being used to expand gentrification or its neglect of those with “diffabilities,” like the deaf. His discussions of the blind and deaf in the book really moved ...more
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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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