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Jamie Peck

The chapter presents a critique of creativity as a policymaking syndrome, understood as a viral form of ‘soft neoliberal’ governance. Focused on Richard Florida’s signature interventions in this fast-moving, if repetitive, policy field, it argues that these caught and, in many ways, encapsulated the cultural and political zeitgeist, which they then helped to legitimate and reproduce. They did not create the creativity boom, nor were they unilaterally responsible for the rash of copycat measures. Instead, their spread can be explained by their expedience: low-risk, low-cost, and minimally disruptive of the status quo. The creativity credo is symptomatic of now-chronic conditions of widening inequality, accelerating gentrification, and diminished local government capacities – conditions that it helped normalize and provide cover for. This sideshow has been playing all over the place, not by virtue of its efficacy or measurable outcomes, but due to its mundane congruence with late-neoliberal conditions, incentives and constraints.

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Jamie Peck and Nik Theodore