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Cities and the Creative Class

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Abstract

Cities and regions have long captured the imagination of sociologists, economists, and urbanists. From Alfred Marshall to Robert Park and Jane Jacobs, cities have been seen as cauldrons of diversity and difference and as fonts for creativity and innovation. Yet until recently, social scientists concerned with regional growth and development have focused mainly on the role of firms in cities, and particularly on how these firms make location decisions and to what extent they concentrate together in agglomerations or clusters. This short article summarizes recent advances in our thinking about cities and communities, and does so particularly in light of themes advanced in my recently published book, The Rise of the Creative Class, which focuses on diversity and creativity as basic drivers of innovation and regional and national growth. This line of work further suggests the need for some conceptual refocusing and broadening to account for the location decisions of people as opposed to those of firms as sources of regional and national economic growth. In doing so, this article hopes to spur wider commentary and debate on the critical functions of cities and regions in 21st–century creative capitalism.

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