- Creative industries, creative class and competitiveness: expert opinions critically appraised
- Volume | Issue number
- 40 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In the debate on urban and regional competitiveness, it has become fashionable to stress the growing importance of creativity for economic development. Especially scientist-consultants with a keen eye for what politicians and business people want to hear have taken centre stage in this discussion. Each city and region in the advanced capitalist world seems to prefer a label as creative city or region, and all look after the same type of industries and try to produce the same set of conditions, while investing in higher education and research institutes, networking and lobbying institutions, and the promotion of spin-off companies. A vast number of leaders and spokesmen of local and regional (quasi) governments believe that a major thing to do is to become more attractive places to live for creative knowledge workers or the ‘creative class’, as it is euphemistically labelled.
However, in academia there is a lot of scepticism with regard to the use of these concepts and their meaning for urban and regional competitiveness. Also citizen movements and NGOs, and some political parties, voice their concern about the extent to which policies that apply these concepts and ideas might only benefit an elite of higher educated, well- paid professionals while at the same time these policies might result in decline of other activities and in social polarisation and poverty as well.
In this paper we contribute to the critical discussion through a critical appraisal of local experts’ views on developments in seven European city-regions, first with regard to policies towards the development of creative and knowledge-intensive industries; and secondly with regard to the impact the development of ‘creative knowledge regions’ may have in social and other respects. In contrast to the rather homogeneous yet dominant advice to facilitate ‘the creative class’, in this paper we will argue that a range of parameters related to the firms and regional institutional, geographical and historical contexts promote a much more diversified view on urban economic development.
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