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The cultural contradictions of the creative city

Pratt, A.C. (2011). The cultural contradictions of the creative city. City, Culture and Society, 2(3), pp. 123-130. doi: 10.1016/j.ccs.2011.08.002


This paper is concerned with both what creative cities are imagined to be, as well as what they actually are. This is a challenge for policy makers. Overall, the paper seeks to create a platform for a more nuanced and subtle approach to creativity, culture and cities: one that is situated and not universal. It seeks to map out an approach that is concerned not simply with the growth possibilities, but also redistributive strategies. In so doing it questions whether can we conceive of creative cities as a truly progressive field of policy and practice, in direct contrast to what we judge to be the socially regressive form they take at present. The paper is divided into three main parts. The first locates the creative city within the discourse of place marketing, but flags up the tensions between the universalism of place marketing, and the particularities of culture and creativity. The second critically examines notions of liberalism and creativity as they underpin the creative city. The final part takes the actually existing creative city and highlights many of the negative and regressive elements of policies that promote them. The paper argues for the need for more nuanced approaches, and for more attention to the (lack of) redistributive outcomes in existing creative city debates.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in City, Culture and Society. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in City, Culture and Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, September 2011, Pages 123–130,
Publisher Keywords: Culture; Innovation; Creative city; Work; Liberalism
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Culture & the Creative Industries
SWORD Depositor:
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