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I begin with a rough sketch of the incidence of the cultural economy in US cities today. I then offer a brief review of some theoretical approaches to the question of creativity, with special reference to issues of social and geographic context. The city is a powerful fountainhead of creativity, and an attempt is made to show how this can be understood in terms of a series of localized field effects. The creative field of the city is broken down (relative to the cultural economy) into four major components, namely, (a) intra-urban webs of specialized and complementary producers, (b) the local labour market and the social networks that bind workers together in urban space, (c) the wider urban environment, including various sites of memory, leisure, and social reproduction, and (d) institutions of governance and collective action. I also briefly describe some of the path-dependent dynamics of the creative field. The article ends with a reference to some issues of geographic scale. Here, I argue that the urban is but one (albeit important) spatial articulation of an overall creative field whose extent is ultimately nothing less than global.

Keywords: creative field; creativity; cultural economy; innovation; urban planning; urbanization

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography and Department of Policy Studies, University of California – Los Angeles., Email:

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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