Brad Fowler

My research is an analysis of the theories of Richard Florida and how they have influenced urban policy making in resent years. Florida's basic thesis is that physical capital is now less valuable than human capital-- creativity and knowledge-- and that this has lead to the rise to prominence of a class who possesses this, the "creative class". Florida contends that the creative class prefers diverse and tolerant inner city environments with active arts and amenities industries. Because the creative class is highly mobile a competition has arisen between cities in an attempt to attract them to tap into their creative capital for economic gains, reversing the suburban trend of the last half century. Optimistic policy makers have jumped on Florida's bandwagon, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm who has implemented the Michigan "Cool Cities Initiative" in response to Florida's ideas. This optimism may be unfounded, as many critiques have arisen in urban sociology and other fields. Critiques include Florida's shaky scholarship, problems in the conception of this "class", ignorance of other historical trends which have lead to the current shape of cities, issues in trying to artificially trying to replicate the success of ideal creative centers, and the ills of justification. In the end, for all the optimism, Florida's ideas prove to be at the very least over stated.

Faculty Mentor: Joel Stillerman

Page last modified May 13, 2011