Competitive Desires: The Creative Class and Regional Governance in Sweden
2016 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Throughout Europe and beyond the powerful discourse of the creative class seems to be firmly nested in the governance of cities and regions as well as entire nations. Indeed, googling terms such as “creative city” or “creative region” yields millions of hits indicating the spread of the theories put forward by Richard Florida in a series of influential books and articles during the first decade of the twenty first century. Moreover, the discursive notion of creativity is not only disseminated widely around the globe, it is also introduced in a variety of different spaces making it just as likely to find metropolis regions such as London, Paris or Berlin to claim the title of being a “creative region” as it is finding peripheral territories and provincial towns articulating their creative, innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.
In this paper we investigate empirically how the creative class discourse is expressed in the governance of Swedish regions by focusing on so called Regional Development Strategies (RDS) for all Swedish regions. Territorial governance in Sweden has been the object of ongoing debates, political proposals, government reports and expert opinions since at least the 1960’s, however the last two decades have been marked by more intensive discussions and indeed also a series of territorial transformations.
In the midst of these reconfigurations new political spaces arise and new political rationalities emerge. In short, what used to be a guiding rationality of redistribution between rich and poor regions can now better be described as a rationality of (global) competition. Correspondingly, notions of (global) competitiveness are articulated as more or less the inevitable goal for the practice of governing Swedish regions and we show how one of the primary responses to such a competition is the quest for creativity. By critically examining the RDS documents we show how in this process of territorial transformation in Sweden certain subjects and practices are deemed more important than others. Thus, we underline the political aspects of the ongoing transformations and the empirical analysis facilitates the grounds for a critical discussions concerning the onlological claims, the theoretical claims and the policy recommendations of the creative class theory that we find inherently linked to processes of exclusion and hierarchy.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Competitiveness, Regional development, Discourse analysis, Creativity, Policy analysis
Research subject Political Science; Human Geography
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-47709OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-47709DiVA: diva2:1068176
Regional Studies Association Annual Conference 2016, Graz, Austria. Special Session - Critical Studies of Urban and Regional Development