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Challenging the Creative Class: Innovation, 'Creative Regions' and Community Development

  • Year: 2005
  • Author: Eversole, Robyn
  • Journal Name: Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, The
  • Journal Number: Vol. 11, No. 3
  • Country: Australia

Richard Florida's theory of the 'creative class', new regionalism's emphasis on regional networks for innovation, and the business literature on the so-called 'new' or 'networked' economy, all point to the important link between creative thinking and economic success for regions. Out of this intellectual climate have come the current exhortations to rural and regional communities to think 'outside the box' and be 'innovative' and 'creative' in coming up with solutions to their economic, social, and environmental problems. Such advice, generally given from the outside, often carries with it the implication that these communities must change to be more like other places: more diverse, more cosmopolitan, and more entrepreneurial (often implying: more profit-driven). This paper demonstrates how current theories of regional development encourage harvesting the grassroots creativity of local communities in order to pursue particular kinds of regional development goals. Examples from rural and Indigenous communities in Australia and Latin America demonstrate a distinct pattern of tapping into culture, identity and creative expression to draw market resources into particular communities and regions. While the strategy can be successful to a point, it also overlooks and devalues the deeper roles that creativity can play: helping communities reflect on their experience and define and pursue their own regional development goals, rather than the goals that others set for them.

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