Professor Jamie Peck spared no punches in his Lim Chong Yah Professorship lecture on April 27th when he delivered a ‘withering critique’ of Richard Florida’s ‘creative class’ agenda. Present at the special lecture, titled ‘Creative City Limits: Winners and Losers in the Creative Economy’, were guests of honour Professor Lim Chong Yah himself and Mrs Lim Chong Yah.
Peck is the Canada Research Chair in Urban and Regional Political Economy and Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia and has been with FASS for this semester. One of the world’s foremost economic and political geographers, he became drawn into the debate on the idea of a ‘creative class’ in the early 2000s. Richard Florida had then formulated the concept that a city’s dynamic economic success is predicated on the flourishing of a ‘creative class’, a mobile, highly-skilled, cosmopolitan elite. Public policy makers and city planners are therefore encouraged to cater to the cultural and lifestyle needs of this ‘creative class’.
Peck argued that the reason for the continued inordinate success of Florida’s argument is that the premise offers a low-cost but high-hype makeover for a city which neatly fits the needs of public policy makers. It is emblematic of a ‘fast policy’ fix which can be reduplicated as a generizable model to suit the needs of any given city. The only problem with this ‘creativity fix’ is that there is absolutely no evidence that the prescription has worked in any city in the world where it has been administered. It is ultimately an attractive yet baseless thesis.
The lecture ended with a robust question and answer session and with Prof Peck thanking FASS for his visiting tenure enjoyed here at NUS.