‘Creative Cities’ and the Rise of the Dealer Class: A Critique of Richard Florida’s Approach to Urban Theory


In recent times, Richard Florida’s ‘creative class’ theory, which deals with a particular set of regional success factors (technology, talent and tolerance) has received quite a positive reception among regional scientists and politicians in North America and Europe. Particularly on the urban level, Florida’s concept has become a ‘message of hope’ to guide poor and declining localities to a future path of successful development. Florida’s approach can be criticized for its highly affirmative concept of class and the current mode of capitalist development. This article starts from a deconstruction of the notion of a creative class and deals with the aggregation and co‐location problems that plague Florida’s concept. On the basis of empirical research on the regional distribution of diverse occupational groups in Germany, the article proves specifically that the ‘dealer class’— or in Florida’s terms, creative professionals — does not have a significant or positive impact on the success of urban areas in developing sustainable economic structures.