June 19th, 2012 | Corey Pein News | Posted In: Business, City Hall, Media

More Creative Class Backlash

Richard Florida vs. the Minotaurs

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Travel writer and former Portlander Frank Bures has published an essay attacking that half-forgotten economic development shibboleth, the "creative class." The term was shorthand for theories of the pop economist Richard Florida, whose books espoused the importance of the MacBook-in-the-coffee shop set to society's greater well-being.

"Today," Bures writes, "Cre­ative Class doc­trine has become so deeply engrained in the cul­ture that few question it."

Why, with­out any solid evi­dence, did a whole gen­er­a­tion of pol­icy mak­ers swal­low the cre­ative Kool-Aid so enthu­si­as­ti­cally? One rea­son is that when Florida’s first book came out, few experts both­ered debunk­ing it, because it didn’t seem worth debunk­ing. “In the aca­d­e­mic and urban plan­ning world,” says [Florida critic Jamie] Peck, “peo­ple are slightly embar­rassed about the Florida stuff.” Most econ­o­mists and pub­lic pol­icy schol­ars just didn’t take it seriously.

Bures' essay amusingly relates some experiences he and his wife had after moving from Portland to another "creative" city, Madison, Wisconsin:

For a time, my wife had a soul­less job with a boss who sat behind her, star­ing at the back of her head. I found work in a dusty tomb of a book­store, doing data entry with cowork­ers who com­plained about their neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders, or who told me about the mag­i­cal crea­tures they saw on their way home, and who kept web­sites depict­ing them­selves as minotaurs.

I’m not sure what exactly I expected, but within a year or two it was clear that some­thing wasn’t right. If Madi­son was such a Cre­ative Class hotbed over­flow­ing with inde­pen­dent, post-industrial work­ers like myself, we should have fit in. Yet our pres­ence didn’t seem to mat­ter to any­one, cre­atively or oth­er­wise. And any­way, Madison’s econ­omy was hum­ming along with unem­ploy­ment around four per­cent, while back in fun, cre­ative Port­land, it was more than twice that, at eight and a half per­cent. This was not how the world accord­ing to Florida was sup­posed to work.
Emphasis added. Read Bures' essay here (via Longreads).
 
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