The key concept of this book is the existence of a new Creative Class. Richard throws into the Creative Class almost everybody and groups them in two categories: the Super Creative Core and the "creative professionals". These two groups include: scientists, professors, poets, novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, architects, non-fiction writers, editors, cultural figures, researchers, analysts, programmers, engineers, filmmakers, financial services, legal and health care professionals, business management and the list goes on. The problem is that the definition of this class is so loose. Even Richard admits that the definition is not really clear, but he goes on discarding the importance of rigour. A class must have political alignment as an expression of a common ground in the way wealth is created and distributed. It should be reflected in the way people vote; otherwise the class does not make sense. It is difficult to convince anyone that you can put these people in the same class: engineers and artists, accountants and actors.
The book uses shocking statistics and quotes and then follows through with flashy language to wrap up a nicely packaged chapter. The problem is that the book has enough time to loose the reader after seemingly never ending debates. This book has so much information and so little structure. All those tables are useless because they do not support a coherent system of principles or story. The writing is difficult to read and very repetitive. After the first fifty pages the same arguments are being rotated again and again: creativity is important, the time of agriculture has passed, the heavy industry is not important for global leadership, there is tension between individual freedom and corporation rigidity, etc.
In describing the new class, Richard Florida observes that "Fewer than one-quarter of all Americans (23.5 percent) accounted for by the 2000 Census lived in a 'conventional' nuclear family, down from 45 percent in 1960. This is social group is mentioned many times in the book. By contrast, the family social group is almost completely ignored. I have the impression that this is actually the creative class and all these indexes (Bohemian, Single, Gay, etc) match quite well the group's dynamics.
I gave this book a two stars rating purely on style and clarity and overall coherence of the book. I think that regardless of the political affiliation, the reader will have genuine difficulty in following the book from the beginning to the end. For instance, in discussing the transformations of every day life, in a polemic with other authors Richard says:
"Juxtaposed to this view are those who believe technology and unbridled market forces are making us work harder and faster, leaving us less time to enjoy each other and out interests, destroying human connections and damaging our neighbourhoods and communities. If the techno-utopians romanticize the future, these techno pessimists glorify the past. Unfettered hypercapitalism is leading to the end of work and the demise of high paying, secure jobs, according to social critics like Jeremy Rifkin. Worse yet, the elimination of such jobs destroy an important source of social stability, argues Richard Sennett, casting people adrift, corroding our collective character and damaging the very fibre of society. The workplace is evolving into an increasingly stressful and dehumanizing "white-collar sweatshop" in Fill Fraser's view, beset by long hours and chronic overwork. In the eyes of cultural critic Tom Frank, business has become an all-powerful and hegemonic cultural force, as entities like MTV and The Gap turn alternative-culture symbols into money making devices. Neighbourhoods, cities and society as a whole are losing the strong sense of community and civic-minded spirit that were the source of our prosperity, argues Robert Putnam. In his nostalgia for a bygone era of VFW halls, bowling leagues, Cub Scout troops and Little League, Putnam contends that the demise of these repositories of `social capital' is the source of virtually all of our woes..."
If you were able to read the text above without losing your concentration and you remembered what started it, then you might be able to read the book and even like it. Otherwise you will probably find that after you read page after page you realise your thoughts were wondering somewhere else. You come back, re-read those pages, only to find you lost your thoughts again.