it's truly a map that compels attention, no? Where are the single mens? Where are the single wimmins?
You'd think this would be a map you'd find on a dating or singles website, but it's actually one of the many pritty demographic maps on the Creative Class Group's website.
The Creative Class Group is Richard Florida's bizness. You know, Florida, the guru-esque author of The Rise of the Creative Class and maven of "creative economics." He's an urban studies dude who's made a career--a second career this millenium, that is, his first career was professor of urban studies or public policy or whatever they're calling cities under a microscope these days--out of pumping up this new "class" he's created. So the singles map makes more sense, given the marriage and child-bearing delays of this over-educated, necessarily mobile class.
I've been following his ideas from a distance (read: I've never read his books) and the critical consensus is that he's made a one-book idea stretch to four. No matter. At this point he's more of a Tony-Robbins-of-urban-renewal-type than a researcher/scholar. He appears to be more interested in selling his idea (literally) than in developing more. More ideas, I mean. I'm not criticizing. Like I said, I haven't read the book/s. This is just what I'm seeing ... from a distance.
Anyhoo, what is the creative class? Fittingly, the best video round-up is in this BMW commercial (which, not coincidentally, has nifty, atlas(t)ilicious animated aerial views of cities building themselves):
See? Doesn't it make a good commercial? Wouldn't you rather call yourself "creative class" than "upper-middle class?" (Because you are, you know. Creative class. The fact that you're reading this particular blog makes you so. See below.)
The breakdown of white collar/blue collar labor in the past two decades has led to our old denominations of American classes no longer accurately describing our new class system. But nobody's really been doing much about it because public discussions of class are (still) even more taboo than public discussions about race. And these selfsame public discussions about class, even when they do happen, are hijacked by privilege even more than public race discussions.
(In racially mixed discussions of race, people of color tend to want to use the discussion to talk about white privilege and whites tend to want to use the discussion to force people of color to acknowledge that they--the individual whites involved--are not racist. Similarly, in public discussions of class, the college educated, creative-capital-endowed, upper-middlish folks hijack the discussion so that they can explain to everyone why they're "not really upper-middle class," even though everyone knows they are. Like "white," "upper-middle class" is the designation no one wants in name, but whose privileges everyone wants in fact.)
So we are inhabiting a bit of an intellectual wild west as far as the new class system goes. We haven't yet defined the classes that now exist in a global economy militarily, but no longer industrially, dominated by the United States. A United States where the median class is ALL college-educated, and whose jobs are defined by the computer applications they require, rather than possessing junior college or trade school certificates and job-defined by collar-color or business-ownership. A United States where the working lower-class is no longer highly trained industrial labor, but rather tip-earning service sector.
Florida's thesis conveniently flows businesspeople into the continuum of hipsters who deep down think they're artists but haven't pursued their art since they graduated from college. Anyone who lives in a city with lots of gays and goes to the theater and hits the galleries occasionally, can call themselves a part of the "creative class," no matter what level of creativity their work requires.
I say "not coincidentally" about the atlas(t)iliciousness above because one of the fads/trends/interests of the "creative class" (if we are to accept
Robbins' Florida's definition, and we are for now, for the sake of this post) is urbanism itself, and mappiness. I've been intending to write about this, and I still do, but I just want to check in here on the fact that you all, darling readers, are obviously "creative class," and that so am I ... and that the obsession with space and maps and urbanism is really just a navel-gazing concern with the necessary tools of a burgeoning, globally-mobile class privileged to avoid not just the dirtiness of industry, but also the dirtiness of business administration. Okay, I'm putting my high horse out to pasture now.
It's interesting that Florida is taking the process of gentrification--that St. JJ calls "the self-destruction of diversity"--and gives it a positive spin ... at least, positive for members of his "creative class" who are unselfconsciously concerned with their property values. Okay, I am criticizing.
But this smug pat on one's own back--argh! "creative class!"--reminds me of a site I criticized in a post a year or two ago, for bored DIYers encouraging illegal invasions of private property for the sake of investigating the urban infrastructure. The site simply assumed that people who didn't illegally invade private property to look at boiler rooms and ventilation tubes lived their lives in a state of numb blindness to the beauty and vitality around them. Likewise, this class "analysis" seems to presuppose not just that this "new" class is necessarily "creative," but also that no other class is.
Okay, you know what? I've gotten as far as I can on curmudgeonly energy alone. Now I have to read the damn book. I'm wondering here if he'll address the fact that this so-called creative class that values "innovation" is itself radically undereducated in science and math to such a degree that what can, from abroad, be seen as our artistic decadence threatens to move the centers of scientific and technological innovation abroad. The only reason the US hasn't yet lost the sci and tech innovation edge is that we're able, with our stable polity and economy, to attract scientists and engineers from foreign climes.
And the identity politics of American culture of the past 25 years has evolved to help "creative class" immigrants and their children find a safe outlet for the inevitable results of integrating into a still-xenophobic non-"creative" populace. In fact, that's part of what this blog is here for: to take a progressive stance on race and class and help creative-classly contribute to a super-culture, that blunts the edge of our still racist mainstream life.
I'ma shut up now.