Cultural Creatives

I learned about this trending phenomenon from my niece who was sharing an idea she had for a start-up: She wants to bring together cultural creatives in a shared work space called “co-working.” I was impressed by the complexity of the idea as well as her very clear vision for how this could work. As a researcher, I became curious about two parts of the idea: who are the cultural creatives and what are the concepts behind co-working? In this post, I focus on the cultural creatives.

Cultural Creatives

Like many people who want to find information fast, I went to Google. I found the link to Wikipedia (of course), a link to (a website that includes information about the cultural creatives and a bunch of New Age/metaphysical stuff), and a book by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson. Thinking I needed to make a more “academic” search, I clicked over to Google Scholar and found not only the Ray and Anderson book, but also several related articles. Wow – now I’m on to something (but, will all of this research on cultural creatives get in the way of the article I’m finishing? No doubt, but I can save drafts of this blog post to work on both at the same time…and I did actually start this post some time ago, set it aside, and am now wrapping it up…and, writing the post over time allowed me to finish up that article I was working on.)

Ray and Anderson describe 19 characteristics of cultural creatives and indicate that if you identify with at least 10 of these characteristics, you’re a cultural creative. Because I think the list is pretty awesome, I thought I should consider at least two of its weaknesses: These characteristics seem heavily influenced not just by Western thinking, but by U.S. thinking — or perhaps that’s the lens I’m using to interpret the list. In addition, the list seems like it would make most liberals like me feel quite at home, while potentially making folks like Ron Paul cringe. Take, for example, the characteristic

…willingness to pay higher taxes or spend more money for goods if that money went to improving the environment

I’m just thinking that this statement alone kicks most conservatives and Libertarians to the curb. But because one only has to identify with 10 of the 19 characteristics to be considered a cultural creative, there may be room for everyone. Some of the characteristics, such as

…intense interest in spiritual and psychological development

…concern and support of the well-being of all women and children

…want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life

…unlikely to overspend or be in heavy debt

would likely appeal to people from a variety of political and ideological perspectives; the differences would lie in how we might define our concern for the well-being of women and children or what we might describe as “in heavy debt” (oddly, this is where I might find myself aligned with fiscal conservatives).

In short, it seems that cultural creatives are an energetic group of people who care about making a difference but is this really a transformative movement or just a gimmicky label?  I’d like to think it’s the former.  Yet even if it is a gimmicky label, I kind of like the energy and idealism it evokes.  I’m in.