One Size Fits All? Applying the Creative Class Thesis onto a Nordic ContextSep 16 2010
The creative class thesis put forward by Florida [(2002a) The Rise of the Creative Class and How it’s transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (New York: Basic Books)] has in recent years been subject to vivid debate and criticism. This article applies the creative class thesis onto a Nordic context in order to examine whether Florida’s theory proves fruitful in a context different from the US. Based on qualitative data, the paper analyses the role of people climate and business climate for the location of the creative class and firms in three different kinds of regions in four Nordic countries. The analyses demonstrate that the people climate tends to be of secondary importance to the business climate in explaining the location of the Nordic creative class. This should be seen as a result of the urban hierarchy within the Nordic countries as well as a strong welfare policy, which ensures an equal distribution of public provision and supports dual career households. Together, these factors diminish the role of people climate for location choices. The study also finds that the notion of people climate has different meanings in various places, and what attracts or repels the creative class depends on the life phases of the members of the creative class. The study raises concerns about the potential for applying the creative class approach beyond large city regions, which limits its usability in regional planning.