The creative class
Richard Florida announced early, in his famous book of 2002, The rise of the creative class, where he proposes a new paradigm of creation of value: the creative professions; These are: scientists, engineers, artists, musicians, designers ... In general any professional who requires to acquire creative solutions. This new social class prevails over the industries of goods manufacturing as economic force in post-modern societies; so the region (not country or state, we will see why) that concentrate more talent will be directly more prosperous.
At the beginning of the century the book gained international repercussion; the explosion of the digital age has made his work mature to a reference reading. However, like any theory, it has its antithesis; Florida's work may be over-optimistic, concentrating on the development of large regions where there was already a strong concentration of capital, and it also does not explain clearly how traditionally creative cities (Berlin, Lisbon, Nashville...) have not lived the expected economic revolution. Nevertheless, the work of Richard Florida deserves to be considered as it shed light on a sector where very few people trust after the explosion of the dot-com bubble in 2000.
Today, in 2017, there is no doubt that exist this creative class and that is also growing at a steady pace in the big cities; It has often been called "hipsters" to this new social class since it is a label very easy to identify, but this new social class encompasses much more than a concrete lifestyle. The fact is that there are thousands of young people, usually graduates and with cultural interests, that go to the big cities to develop their creative career, either in the growing market of the digital professions or engineering, architecture ... etc. This has led to what is known as gentrification: a higher class occupies the place in the city of the lower class districts, causing a displacement of population of lower class to the outskirts of the cities (the term has a definition and effects more broadly, but in essence that is what it refers to). The creative class has a role in gentrification although they are not the exclusive causes, in addition must be the action of other economic and speculative factors. Therefore, we see that this new social class is often associated with labels and problems that are not necessarily related.
Images of Shoreditch and Brixton, two of the trendiest neighborhoods in London. Photos: A. Góngora ©
But... If we live in a globalized and increasingly digital world, where you can buy and work from home, why move from city? or to another country? why move from home? Richard Florida also answers these questions in his book Who's your city? published in US in 2008. In this book he exposes two fundamental theories: the existence of economic "mega-regions" and why choosing where you live is the most important choice of your life.
The first theory is easy to understand: it matters more the city you choose than the country. For example: the entire Canadian economy fits in Tokyo, the entire Spanish economy is very similar to New York's economic strength alone and London generates as much wealth as the whole nation of Netherlands. Moreover, the great metropolis don't stop growing; A UN report published in 2011 says that cities with more than 10 million inhabitants will increase from 21 to 29 by 2050, and 10 percent of the urban population will live there. While cities with a population between one million and five million inhabitants will be 509 in four decades, 120 more, and in them will live 22% of the urban population. We will then speak of practically city-states, like those of ancient Greece, but in terms of population and economic matter at massive levels.
"Spiky world" - Florida uses in his book this graphic to represent the world economic activity (year 2008)
This concept of economic regions is especially relevant to the creative class since creativity is often defined as a dynamic process, involving the creation of new connections, the crossing of disciplines, the use of metaphors, and analogies. The economic, population and multicultural density found in large cities is the ideal breeding ground for inspiration and creative interaction; Therefore, creativity is not understood without a continuous flow of cultural influences. On the other hand, the digital age in which we are immersed gives almost unlimited access to all kinds of cultural and consumer goods, thereby strengthening the concept of "The Global Village" conceived by Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, where symbols and values are constantly shared globally. This, contrary to what it may suggest, has only brought the creative a cluster effect by creating: first, massive subcultures through the internet; Second: greater scope in the knowledge of social geography. With these two factors, they are primarily cohesive to individuals and subsequently suggest physical mobility to satisfy the aspirational lifestyle.
The second thesis of the book Who's your city? is about the importance of choosing the city where we live. Mainly because, generally, we could divide our social life into three great classifications: our personal relationships, our professional aspirations and the environment; This last element is the most important since it conditions everything else. The place where we live conditions who we know, who our friends are or what couple we have (except stoic cases of long-distance love); Also directly affects the possibilities of work, the openness or dynamism of the labor market and the possibilities of entrepreneurship; In itself the environment is already defined as the alternatives of leisure, recreation, civics, security, basic services... etc. No doubt, we have to wonder why we live where we live, whether you consider creative class or not, since it directly determines levels of personal satisfaction or frustration.
Obviously you're not obligated to move from city to a "mega-region" get better and get professional well-being, but it is an interesting point of view if you feel that the place where you live doesn't satisfy you or doesn't offer you what you believe deserves. Above all, it is a good way to present in a coherent way the relationship between this social class and the current economic, technological and cultural development needs; Where new generations of professionals will have to solve new problems in this new scenario of digital hyperlinking, as shown in this New York Times column about the book The Second Machine Age (2014).