Friday, November 05, 2004

Questions, Creative Class

(Well, that took long enough. I've been waiting for Blogger all day.)

  1. Is it just me, or has Florida got serious problems picking definitions for "creative" and "class" and sticking to them? For the former term, he dances around with impressionistic ideas about what creative people do and how they do it, and I can't see anywhere he solidly establishes how to tell a creative-class worker from a non-creative-classer. (What about me, for instance? I have a Creative Classer's education, but I just spent two and a half years doing data entry and database code-monkeying. Real creative. Not. And, I need not say, not highly-paid.) At one point he even says that any job can be a Creative Class job—in which case what's the use of the distinction?

    As for "class," Florida insists that it depends entirely on the work people do (on which, see above), but when he actually talks about the Creative Classers, it seems to me they have much less in common laborally (if that's a word) than culturally.

  2. How is the Creative Class gendered? Mary established pretty neatly that it's racially weighted. Surely the gendering of work perceived as "desirable" that we've talked about previously in relation to temps and computer workers has some relevance here. Surely, also, mothers and girlfriends and wives as well as the Service Class are taking up a lot of the housework and childrearing slack to give their Creative Class men room for their jobs and their oh-so-wonderful "experiences."

  3. What do the results of Tuesday's election say about the political viability of the Creative and non-Creative classes?

And a rant: This book irritated me even worse this time than the last time I read it. Suddenly I have sympathy with Daniel Bell's attitude as retailed by Florida. Florida's Creative Classers, despite his lip service to "diversity," are the Slashdot demographic writ large: self-absorbed white boys, zero sense of social responsibility (if they don't like a place, they can always just leave it!), interested in "diversity" only insofar as it amuses or coddles them and they don't have to engage seriously with it. Bah. A pox pox POX on them.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

creative class questions

Richard Florida did not include a "Whitey" Index, so I have taken the liberty of doing so for him (although I wouldn't make any claims of statistical significance for it). Being a library geek and a census junkie, I went to the 2000 census and looked up some race/ethnicity statistics for about 20 of the cities at the top and the bottom. Now, about 75% of Americans reporting in the census are white, while 12.3% are African-American. Of the 9 cities that I looked at, ranking highest in the Creativity Index, 8 of them had a population that was less than 10% African-American, and 6 were over 70% white. Of the 12 cities ranking lowest in the Creativity Index, 10 of them had a population that was over 33% African-American, and 3 were over 50% African-American.

There were definitely some outliers - Atlanta, for example. I'd be curious to know about the role of Atlanta's large African-American population in the creative class there.

On that note:

1. Could we talk about the undercurrent of white upper middle class privilege in the idea of the creative class? How does this relate to the digital divide and the information have's and have-not's? How could this be changed? Also, Greg, could you suggest some good readings on race and ethnicity and information labor?

2. I was surprised to see in the Appendix that Florida considers librarians to be part of, not only the creative class, but of the "super-creative core." Throughout the book, I really thought that librarians fit more into the service class, according to his definitions. How do librarians fit into this core? How do they not fit?

3. When Florida describes the working patterns and habits of the creative class, I wondered, 'Are these people being valued for their talents, creativity, and ability, or are they being taken advantage of?' What kind of toll is the creative class taking on itself? Similarly, what kind of toll are the service demands of the creative class taking on the lower and lower-middle class?

Sunday, October 31, 2004


1. Prasad discusses the issue of quality control. Has this focus transferred from actual products to the workers within the service sector? Prasad argues that customers' look to quality control for both distinction and assurance, is it possible for these properties be displayed in people, thus causing a change in the management's focus?

2.Both Prasad and Brynjolfsson/Hilt's article look at operational attempts to harness workers' knowledge/skill or IT benefits to best suit the company. Does the required input for IT differ from the steps necessary for quality control in terms of how it effects the workers?

3. All of the workers from these articles possessed qualities or work habits that were somehow unwieldy to management, requiring new strategies of work organization. All three articles discussed the different attempts of management to gain more control over quality, productivity and workers' knowledge. How is this idea similar to temp workers, when the individualized aspects of work are not viewed as advantageous to the company and instead become the focus of restructuring?

Questions for Halloween

1. Brynjolfsson and Hitt claim that with the investment in computer and information technology, a "firm has a new system with lasting value" (55). But how lasting is that value? If hardware and software advancements continue, will prior investments retain their value?

2. Prasad discusses the phenomena in which "an informal norm had developed such that styaing with a company longer than four or five years begins to be seen as deviant, such an employee may be presumed to be stagnating, or to have reached a limit" (437). How might this effect corportate/work culture(s)? How might it effect the worker and the worker's family?

3. B & H's discussion of workers' resistance to change - Why might those in charge, those who institute change, fail to plan for such resistance? How can they avoid it? Are humans/workers simply stubborn when they resist change? Or are they, at some level, concerned about how the job might change? That the change could lead to no job? That they might need to be 're-educated'?