The Rise of the Creative Class

This book was recommended to me by an acquaintance a few weeks ago…I’m glad they mentioned it.  I grabbed this book to read while spending last week on the beach.

The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (Paperback) by Richard Florida is an informative book that covers A LOT of ground and has A LOT of data….but not as much “information” as I would have expected.  Let me explain.

The premise of this book is that society today is that a new Creative Class exists and is driving the way we live today.    Florida uses this creative class to explain why societal changes and patterns of living as well as why some cities are more attractive than others (e.g., Silicon Valley vs Oklahoma City).

The question behind much of the research for the book is:

How do we decide where to live and work? What really matters to us in making this kind of life decision?  How has this changed – and why?

This is an interesting question…and one that Florida tries to answer throughout the book by using statistics, quotes from other authors and a good deal of words.

The first 3/4’s of the book is dedicated to describing the Creative Class, how they live and work and why they are different from their ‘parents’.  There is a ton of data and a lot of time is spent by Florida quoting research, arguing against other theorists and using statistics to “make his case” that the Creative Class is the most important class of our time.  During this portion of the book, Florida makes the argument that there is a strong correlation between those cities/regions that are more tolerant and the number of creative class works that live and work in the area.

One interesting section of the book describes the changing work environment that is making it possible for people to set their own schedules, work from home and be much less constrained by the old ‘8 to 5’ mentality that has been a part of American business for so long. Chapters 6 through 9 are probably the most interesting and descriptive of the book.  These chapters describe the reasons behind why people in my generation (and those younger than me) are looking for more than ‘just a job’ and why many people are tiring of the ‘8 to 5’ experience.

The last quarter of the book describes how cities and regions have developed themselves into a magnet for the creative class. Florida states that in order for a city (or region) to become a ‘creative class’ magnet, they must have the “3T’s of Economic Development”…Technology, Talent and Tolerance.  A brief description of each follows.

  • Technology – a city/region much have the technological infrastructure in place to fuel a creative and  entrepreneurial culture.
  • Talent – A city/region must have a talented and highly educated workforce
  • Tolerance – A city/region much have a high tolerance level and not try to force people to ‘fit in’

The topic of the book was interesting to me but the delivery was somewhat confusing, repetitive and at times poorly constructed. Many times I got lost in the middle of a paragraph and had to start over…this from a guy who reads many many books a year on various topics.  I’m used to reading dry material…but this was worst than most.

With that said, I would still recommend this book to those folks interested in the topic of economic development, regional development, city planning or just a general review of social science literature. If you pick up this book, take my advice and skim it rather than read every word…there is a lot of “stuff” that isn’t relevant to the overall message of the book.