Creative cities, creative classes and the global modern

Justin O'Connor, Xin Gu, Michael Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article charts the development of the ‘creative cities’ discourse as one increasingly organised around 'aa transnational hegemonicic block’. It traces the tendency towards homogenisation during the adoption, translation and improvisation of creative cities' policies around the world, to that of an aspiration to be 'Modern'. Rejecting claims of a ‘creative class’, the article focuses on cultural intermediaries and how they function as a global epistemic community under the notion of modernisation. In addition, such a ‘creative imaginary shaped by a US centric neo-liberal financialization model has replicated existing global hierarchies, undermining public services and exacerbating the commodification of the creative commons. The article argues that it may be possible for cities to transform the Creative City discourse in their own image only after a radical rethinking of a modernising imaginary, and basing themselves on a new conception of the possibilities of the local.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100344
Number of pages6
JournalCity, Culture and Society
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Creative cities
  • Creative class
  • Creative economy
  • Cultural intermediaries
  • Cultural policy
  • Modernisation

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