Ana Mafalda Madureira, PhD student
Creative Class theory of Richard Florida has been gaining notice by both researchers and practitioners dealing with regional development and urban issues. A great deal of attention and time has been put into validating and criticizing ideas put forward by this theory, often exploiting quantifying methods and aiming for a model that clarifies the influence between creative class and regional and urban development.
My aim is to address the Creative Class theory exploring one of the key factors that, according to Florida, contribute to attract and retain creative people to a city: peoples climate or quality of place. The idea is to access what is meant by this quality of place that is sought after by the creative class. Attractiveness of a city is difficult to define and measure, especially when referring to such a large group. Thus I intend to access this attractiveness by analysing changes that occur in the citys structure and amenities as a result of the appropriation of the space by its creative class dwellers. The hypothesis is that if a city tries to respond to the needs and demands of its inhabitants, looking for the effects of the presence of creative people in a particular area will give me indications of what they find attractive.
A second hypothesis is that I will encounter a high diversity of groups and preferences within the Creative Class. This highlights one of the critics that are often linked with the Creative Class theory: the idea that there is not such a thing as a homogeneous creative class, especially when it comes to choices about lifestyle. Wrongfully believing that the Creative Class is unified in tastes and aspirations influences policy options that relate with urban areas. On the other hand, such a diversity of aspirations and lifestyles as might emerge from dealing with people with different professional backgrounds, age groups and family situation might create difficulties in reaching conclusions. In order to address this issue, I intend to focus my analyses in general trends when it comes to attractiveness of the city being determined by diversity of consumer goods and services, accessibility, aesthetics and physical settings.
My research will have a stronger focus on qualitative research, which has so far been missing from studies that look into the Creative Class theory. The main theories and perspectives where I will build my research are within Urbanization Economies (i.e. Jane Jacobs), the Consumer City (Edward Glaeser), Creative Class (i.e. Richard Florida) and Human Capital (Edward Glaeser). The overarching research question is what factors influence the mobility of the creative class into a city?, that I will analyse by focusing on two main points: (1) What defines the Creative Class? and (2) what characterizes the attractiveness of a city for the Creative Class?