Confidence and the diminishing ‘creative class’

In a recent review of the book “Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class” by Scott Timberg, the notion of innovation, as well of confidence and stories discussed in Animal Spirits struck me. It got me thinking that, while it is true that confidence and people’s expectations play directly into the status of the market and larger economy, what can be said (beyond mere anecdotes) about how confidence or the lack thereof impact the ebbs and flows of migration of the creative class? The creative class can be anyone from artists, journalists, musicians to DIY or tech entrepreneurs. Certain cities have historically attracted a more creative demographic throughout history, Paris, Milan, San Francisco, Austin or New York, for example. This raises the question, are there more measures cities can take to spur more creative optimism and innovation, and thus greater overall confidence, so as to begin or continue to attract the creative class? There is no doubt that traditionally, the creative class has provided tangible as well as intangible benefits to the local economy. The creation of artists’ districts in large cities, for example. But as the title of the book suggests and according to Timberg, the creative class has begun to dwindle due to a paradigm shift of place-based activities to a more social media focused that has pervaded popular culture. In the words of Timberg, “the creations may be intangible, but the institutions are brick-and-mortar” (speaking of the past), whereas current day trends point to “an abandonment of public spaces as well as the notion of a shared culture”. Like the notion of a shared culture, confidence is “also a view of the world- a popular model of current events, a public understanding of the mechanism and economic change as informed by the news media and by popular discussions”, according to Akerloff and Shiller. A decrease in physical public spaces could negatively influence confidence in a way that could be disruptive to the influx of the creative class. In order to continue to foster the arrival of the creative class, cities need to be more mindful about how confidence is spread to best retain this essential component of the local economy.

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