Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida | Literature Review

This book would definitely provide insight into the importance of creative professions.


Florida talks about the Creative Class, which are a group of occupations that contribute more to society than people generally expect. Professions in the Creative Class, as Florida detailed, come in a wide variety ways and has various access to creativity. There are Super-Creative Core, which includes scientists, novelists, and architecture; and the Creative Professionals which include managers and legal occupations.


The viability of the creative resume is very adaptive compared to hands-on trades in the most extraneous circumstances. In the case of the sub-mortgage bubble burst in 2008 that ignited the Global Recession, while every other type of job experienced job loss, creative professions had gains. This was also true when creative occupations were increasing in many cities while the manufacturing jobs were decreasing, with Detroit being a notable example.

There is a lot of contemporary history that is referenced throughout the book as a way to illustrate the gradual acceptance of the eccentric creative geniuses. Florida makes the point that there has been a technological shift from factories and hands-on professions that were prevalent prior to the 21st century to a post-industrial world where the use of technology takes the place of traditional professions. Specifically, that rift started showing within the 1950’s-70’s, since he does not narrow down into the ’60’s. At that point, the bohemian–motivated by artistic pursuits–and the bourgeois–motivated by money–start gradually emerging as one group who had been derisively called Bobos, though Florida makes it clear that he wants to call them the Creative Class.

Florida makes the point that creativity is the main root of success, so much so that knowledge and innovation are derivatives of it. He names Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates for being the personifications of the Creative Class. They began their careers by being subversive in attire and rebellion towards the standards of their betters.

Workplace environment and location are among the factors that ultimately determine creative people’s performance. Florida makes the case, through anecdotes and data, that people will usually accept a job that interest them even though they are paid less than the one they are currently in but feel unfulfilled. There had been major Fortune 500 companies that have taken note of the extravagant workplace that includes in-work day care and a rock climbing wall.

As such, social intelligence is one of the most important skills that Florida constantly mentions. This is the ability to persuade people to implement one’s own strategies or creative works within a group. Florida does note, however, that this would include separating one from his own life in his own family and hometown and more with the Creative Class types who share the same interests as him.

As for location, Florida makes the case that cities are the epicenters of creativity and innovation, more specifically in the street-level cultures. It is usually there that musical and theatrical innovations thrive. As for the rest of the city, it abounds with firms dedicated to innovative research, such as information technology. However, the success of a city, Florida argues, would depend on whether the occupations in these cities have become accommodating to creative types. In this way, Florida has argued analyzing cities by their occupational clusters.

However, there is the issue of the new Creative Class widening wealth inequality. Florida describes the disadvantage that gentrification would have in any city by explaining that it is easy to blame the “yuppies” and others of the Creative Class for implementing this disconnection. He also frequently mentions the social justice aspect of the Creative Class, which is that immigrants contribute significantly to the Creative Class since a large percentage of them have college degrees; though women and other racial minorities have become disadvantaged. He attributes this to the structures that enable these restrictions in the first place. In the case of urban renewal, he suggests that city-natives should be among the most important contributors to the Creative Class.

Indeed, conflict is a major theme in the book, with the example of the working class and the creative class being drifted apart. In this way, this results in the political divisions with the working class leaning Republican and the creative class leaning Democrat. There was also conflict involved in the Arab Spring and the London Riots of 2011 as arising from the discontent of the working class against the wealthy.

Richard Florida

He is the director of the Martin Prosperity Institute in the University of Toronto. He spent much of his career, traveling to various metropolitan areas as part of a surveying project by Gallup. He has also made plenty of speeches, and throughout the book he constantly addresses not just people he himself disagreed with but also people who disagreed with him.

Florida talks about his father who told him that the workers in his factory ultimately dictate its innovation and success. When recent MBA graduates started being hired, there was a conflict between them and the workers until it resulted in the bankruptcy of the business. This anecdote at the very beginning of the book is what sets into motion the explanation that there is a class of creative professions that are being neglected or exploited by the structures of the old economic order.

Writing Style

Florida repeatedly uses the word multidimensional when describing the many avenues in which creativity can be used, in terms of occupations and industries.

Florida has a literary style of categorizing concepts into easily understandable subdivisions. In the case of creativity, he differentiates them into business (as economic creativity) and innovation (as scientific creativity). He also further uses four T’s in order to describe the dynamics of metropolitan cities creating avenues for creative success, which include: technology (the innovators such as Amazon and Microsoft started in Seattle), talent (includes lowering the entry levels for exceptional individuals), tolerance (which includes multiculturalism and openness of LBGT), territorial assets (choosing the right city for career).

There is a pack-full of studies that Florida uses in order to clarify the adjectives that he uses, such as creative, innovative, bohemian, and bourgeois. This is important since any reader would feel intimidated by the declarations that he makes. As for how cities should be accommodating to the Creative Class, he suggested that it should be a people climate, without spending on frivolous projects like football stadiums which take more in than bring out to the city denizens.

Real World Application

Since Florida shows a lot of favoritism towards cities by saying that they are the epicenter of any country’s prosperity, he barely touches upon internet access and the success the Creative Class might have when taking advantage of it. In that sense, he does not mention areas with strong internet connection–not even in the cities he mentioned–and whether they can also be a factor in any city’s Creative Class’s success. However, it would appear to be true that cities continue to be a robust economic factor which is not to be taken for granted, though there are stereotypes of the city as being corrupt, crime-infested s-holes. Of course, Florida does mention that cities can only attract the Creative Class when it is accommodating in terms of safety, especially as he noted that violent crime rate has been declining for forty years.

As for the Creative Compact that he suggested at the end of the book, it is essentially a plan for making sure that the mayors of metropolitan cities abide by the appeasing of the Creative Class but also the enfranchisement of the working class, since he argued that mayors of these metropolitan cities make the most important political decisions that US presidents follow up on.

Suggest This To…

I would say any creative type who feels disenchanted by the system, however considering the bleak statistics that Florida makes full use on about the prospects of success as a creative occupation, I would be hesitant. As for anyone who is works in any mayoral office in any US city, I would make recommendations if they want their city to thrive.

Florida, Richard. “Rise of the Creative Class: 10th Anniversary Edition.” Basic Books. 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *