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Posts Tagged ‘urban environments

In one of my latest papers for the MA program I am on this year I looked at the connections between concepts of the experience economy and of the creative city.

As (surprisingly!!!!) the paper was very, very, very well received, I thought about sharing it as it might help other students (and ok… maybe other researchers too:)). Here is the introduction and following the link you can read the whole thing: essay.

“They will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” 

The economy and the city

The connection between the development of urban areas and the different stages of the local, regional or global economy has been constantly debated throughout they years (Scott, 2006; Jacobs, 1969; Kong and Conor, 2009). There is no doubt that the evolution of cities and that of the dynamics of economic production, labour and consumption can be overlapped during different periods of history, however, stating that one has led to the birth of the other can prove to be a very challenging argument. Jane Jacobs (1969) claimed that historically, cities have been the origin and engine of innovation and economic growth, on the other hand, Scott (2006:2) suggests that “the shifting fortunes of each individual urban area” depends highly on the shift in economic models and behaviours. To answer the question “which was first?” is impossible as “new ideas and new fields of economy are invented in cities” (Kong and Connor, 2009:208) but also, cities have been created and expanded due to the needs and demands of the economy different ages.

Combining the models of Toffler (1980) and Bell (1973), the world economy can be divided into a first, agrarian wave, based on agricultural practices, a second wave of mass produced goods and automised machines, followed by a post-industrial, third wave, focused mainly on the provision of services. Over the past 20 years, as new technologies have shown their power and due to significant changes in the financial capital and the amount of leisure time, concepts like the “knowledge economy” (in which the main currency is information; Bell, 1973), “the experience economy” (based on the value added by experiences to the consumption process; Pine and Gilmore, 1999) and the highly praised “creative economy” (in which creativity is the main factor of differentiation between products, companies or places; Pratt, 2008) have also been circulating. They could either be placed in the last, post-industrial wave or most likely, considered to have created a Forth Wave of their own in which they co-exist and overlap.

During each stage, cities have been the main arenas for the interaction between producers, consumers and all the other entities connected to the transactional processes. In Antiquity and Medieval times, they were the world’s communication knots and therefore its main markets, growing steadily to accommodate a variety of trades that answered the needs of those passing through (Hall, 2000). The nineteenth-century capitalism gave birth to the classical factory town, followed by the rise of the fordist mass production “associated with the growth and spread of the large industrial metropolis” (Scott, 2006:3). As “traditional manufacturing activities declined in the developed world” (Pratt, 2008:5) new styles of urbanisation have developed to create the perfect conditions in which new economies could flourish and to cater for a new work force.

The very popular concept of “creative city” (Landry, 2000) could be the perfect urban model associated with the development of knowledge, experience and creativity all together because it brings “the dimensions of economy, culture, and place back into a practical and humanly reasonable harmony” (Scott, 2006:15). As creativity and information are the base for the creative city (Cooke, 2008), this paper will focus on examining the extent to which “experiences” and other concepts associated with Pine and Gilmore’s (1999) description of the experience economy, are part of, or resources for, this type of urban environment.

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