Are Creative Cities Good Places for Creative People? Notes on the Social Conditions for Cultural Production in Contemporary Economy

João Romão


Purpose: This paper discusses the social conditions for cultural production in contemporary cities, in the context of a globalized economy, with rising importance of the integration of cognitive, symbolic and emotional elements into tradable products and services. Although the agglomeration dynamics of creative activities in urban contexts and the social or spatial inequalities related to processes of urban reorganization in Post-Fordist societies have been analysed in the last years, the interrelations between these aspects still lack adequate investigation and empirical analysis.

Methodology/Approach: By synthetizing diverse theoretical contributions related to different levels and interactions arising from creative activities, their transformations into tradable products (commodification) and some of their spatial implications in the urban context (agglomeration, externalities, identity, place branding and gentrification), the article emphasizes the different benefits obtained by the agents involved in this process, potentially contributing for increasing social conflicts and to a process of cultural homogenization with negative implications on the uniqueness and authenticity of places.

Findings: Benefits arising from the externalities generated by the agglomeration of cultural production and creative activities can be framed within the “Common Pool of Resources” approach, suggesting that a more balanced share of the benefits can be obtained by means of participatory processes for city planning and development.

Research Limitation/implication: The paper is based on a conceptual approach and further empirical research can be useful in order to test the formulations proposed.

Originality/Value of paper: This analysis leads to the identification of different questions for further research, by combining quantitative analysis for the measurement of cultural and creative externalities and modelling processes for the distribution of benefits arising from cultural production, with qualitative analysis related to participatory processes of urban planning and monitoring.


culture; creative economy; externalities; common pool of resources

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