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The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World Paperback – October 2, 2001
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Do you "give a lot of importance to helping other people and bringing out their unique gifts?" Do you "dislike all the emphasis in modern culture on success and 'making it,' on getting and spending, on wealth and luxury goods?" Do you "want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life for our country?" If you answered yes to all three of these questions--and at least seven more of the remaining 15 in Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson's questionnaire--then you are probably a Cultural Creative.
Cultural Creative is a term coined by Ray and Anderson to describe people whose values embrace a curiosity and concern for the world, its ecosystem, and its peoples; an awareness of and activism for peace and social justice; and an openness to self-actualization through spirituality, psychotherapy, and holistic practices. Cultural Creatives do not just take the money and run; they don't want to defund the National Endowment for the Arts; and they do want women to get a fairer shake--not only in the United States, but around the globe.
On the basis of Ray and Anderson's research, about 50 million Americans are Cultural Creatives, a group that includes people of all races, ages, and classes. This subculture could have enormous social and political clout, the authors argue, if only it had any consciousness of itself as a cohesive unit, a society of fellow travelers. The husband and wife team wrote the book "to hold up a mirror" to the members of this vast but diffuse group, to show them they are not alone and that they can reshape society to make it more authentic, compassionate, and engaged. It is an idealistic call for a new agenda for a new millennium. --I. Crane --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In an attempt to reconceptualize shifting American demographics that's similar to David Brook's Bobos in Paradise (Forecasts, Mar. 13), Ray and Anderson posit that hidden within America are 50 million people, 26% of the population, who are what they call "cultural creatives." Based on 12 years of survey research, 100 focus groups and dozens of interviews, their study presents a complex portrait of these citizens. According to the authors, cultural creatives share a series of attitudes and concerns: "they like to get a synoptic view [and] see all the parts spread out side by side and trace the interconnections"; they have strong concerns about the well-being of families; they have a well-developed social consciousness and a "guarded optimism for the future"; they are disenchanted with "owning more stuff... materialism... status display and the glaring social inequities of race" and are critical of almost every big institution of modern society, including corporations and government. This cultural groupAdrawn from all classes, races, education and income levels and social backgroundsAhas emerged only during the past 50 years and, according to the authors, forms a coherent subculture, only "missing a self-awareness as a whole people." Ray and Anderson argue that cultural creatives hold the potential for radically reshaping the values and material realities, the "deep structure," of American life, and so they aim to make this group cognizant of their shared values, to bring about substantive changes. More successful than Brooks in grappling with issues of gender, ethnicity, race and class, Ray and Anderson offer unusual insights that, while broad and sweeping, shed new light on American culture and politics. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
This book should be read together with Imagine: What America Could be in the 21st century, edited by Marianne Williamson. Taken together, the two books are inspirational while still being practical.
Cultural Creatives as a book, and some of the other reviews, tend to over-sell the success of the emergence of an alternative lifestyle to Traditionalists (stereotyped as somewhat red neckish and religious rightists) and Moderns (stereotyped as ravish the earth anything-goes corporate carpetbaggers). The reality is that there are as many "cultural creatives" as there are people with disabilities in the United States--50 million. Not one quarter of the population, as one reviewer claims.
Having said that, by way of somber stage-setting, I cannot say enough good things about this book. It should be required reading for every citizen, every student, and every public official. In a very real sense, this book strikes me as a truly seminal work that could help millions of individuals reframe their personal connection to one another, to their Republic, and to the earth.
This is neither a tree-hugger book nor a mantras R us book. This book provides a thoughtful review of how different movements--first the environmental movement, then the human rights movement, and finally the consciousness movement--have come together to define an alternative lifestyle and alternative paradigm for political and economic and social relationships in the larger context of a sustainable "whole" earth.
I found this book motivational and meaningful at both a personal level and a larger national level. At the personal level, its detailed and well-organized description of fifteen very distinct aspects of a "cultural creative" lifestyle helped me understand--as it has helped many others--that there is actually a category of people who have come to grips with and found solutions that enrich their lives--and this explains my great disappointment that the book does not offer a "resources" section at the end. I would have been very glad to discover, for example, a "Cultural Creative" journal or magazine that combined a strong book review section, art and culture, a consumer reports section tailored to the higher standards of the "CCs", new innovations in home restoration and remodeling, vacation options known to be attractive to CCs, etcetera.
At the higher political level, I found the book constructive and just this side of a tipping point. An increasing number of people, all of them generally outside of Washington and not associated with Wall Street, clearly have some strong positive values and a real commitment to achieving reform through "many small actions". What this group has lacked is a means of communicating and orchestrating itself on a scale sufficient to demand respect from politicians and corporation. The Internet now provides such a vehicle--and as the Internet explodes from 3.5M people worldwide to 3.5B people worldwide, in the next ten years, I am convinced that Cultural Creatives may finally come into their own as a new form of global political party. Cultural Creatives would sign the Kyoto Treaty (and know what it is); Cultural Creatives would demand a 100% increase--from a half-penny a dollar to a full penny a dollar--in America's foreign diplomatic and humanitarian assistance budget--and Cultural Creatives could conceivably give the Republican Party a real beating in the next Congressional elections if President Bush persists in breaking his campaign vow on reducing carbon emissions. A peaceful revolution in our national agenda may truly be a near-term reality.
This is not a book where a summary can do it justice. It needs to be experienced at an individual level and ideally also at a community level, where it could be understood and accepted as a common point of reference for individual choosing to live "in relation" to one another and to the world, at a level much higher and more satisfying than our current arrangements. When this book makes it to the best-seller list, America will have matured and there will be hope for our children's future quality of life.
Other books along these lines:
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace (Helix Books)
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace
The authors regard half of adults in America (100 million) as Moderns. They generally accept the constantly changing, materialistic culture operated and promoted by big business. Much of modern culture seems to be value-free as it revolves around science, technology, growth, speed, and efficiency. The marketplace has largely taken over the lives of moderns: it unabashedly breaks community ties and, in essence, defines people through their consumption and employment. Moderns range from advantaged business executives to the lower middle class adversely affected by globalizing business strategies.
Traditionals, on the other hand, have been largely bypassed by modernism. The 48 million traditionals tend to be older and rural-based with low incomes and limited education and are a group in decline. Their culture is based on time-worn, shared community values and is often orally transmitted to future generations. Traditionals are appealed to by affluent elements of both business and social conservatives, although many traditionals are not pro-business or anti-environment.
The principal contention of the authors is that since the 1960s, 50 million Americans have shifted their "worldview, values, and way of life" sufficiently to form a distinct subculture: the Cultural Creatives. They are defined by both disenchantment with the materialism and fragmentation of modernism and an interest in personal growth, authenticity, and experience. A "core" element of 24 million adults dominated by women and consisting of a variety of artists, professionals, alternative health-care providers, and feminists are oriented toward personal growth and spirituality. Creatives, more broadly, have only an average interest in spirituality and person-centered values and are more focused on the environment and broader social issues.
The authors suggest that the Creatives arose from the civil rights and anti-war movement of the 60s and such movements as feminism and environmentalism. Those movements succeeded partly because Americans were forced to confront the fact that American "principles of general equality, personal freedom, justice, civil rights, and representative democracy" were being unfairly applied. The authors contend that those movements are having an impact far beyond visible leaders and supporters by feeding the longings and hopes of the greater population. More recent Creatives reject large institutions, both social and political, and have turned to New Ageism, holistic approaches, and developing and understanding one's self.
A primary agenda of the authors, beyond identification of social groups, is to press for the need of redirecting the economy and the broader culture in directions that will sustain the environment. The recommendations of several environmental experts include such measures as increasing efficiency, decreasing waste, recycling both natural and man-made materials, and stopping the destruction of Nature. One of the more interesting ideas is the recycling of durable products, where durable products are leased, instead of being owned, with businesses being required to take back and recycle their products. Of course, current reality is for businesses to pass the consequences of environmental destruction onto the public. Interestingly, businesses have arisen to supply the alternative needs of Cultural Creatives in such areas as organic foods, various self-help or experiential endeavors, etc. Of course, some resent the intrusion of business principles in a movement that rejects greed and profit. Resentment or not, these businesses have had an imperceptible impact on the general direction of the business community.
The authors are optimistic that the advent of Cultural Creatives bodes well for "an evolutionary surge to a new level" of cultural development and economic transformation where ecological sustainability has become a reality. However, the authors acknowledge that the growth of the Creative subculture is barely recognized, even among themselves. The various media underreport their activities and their social influence. For one, as stated, many Creatives are simply unseen. Secondly, the successes of earlier movements in integrating schools, registering voters, limiting nuclear arms, and setting environmental standards have made those agendas old news. And thirdly, as the authors indicate, advertiser-driven bias is a factor in news coverage. It's hard to conceive of a group flying below the radar having much public influence.
In addition, the authors applaud the eschewing of politics and pressure groups by Creatives. They point out that involvement in the political process often involves compromises or the watering down of agendas, which is anathema to Creatives. But the authors do concede that many activists believe that "political protest is what really counts in changing society." The authors also contend that Creatives "are no more liberal or conservative than most Americans." Yet it is acknowledged that the Creatives "reject the intolerance and narrowness of social conservatives and the Religious Rights." It would seem that any group that would attempt to limit the prerogatives of big business would have to do so from the left. Of course, a central view of the authors is that the Creatives will infiltrate the hearts and minds of Americans and thereby indirectly achieve their agenda: "concerns for the planet, for ecology, and for spirituality will become as normal and natural as motherhood and apple pie."
There seems to be a lot to question about this book. There is really no hard-core evidence presented that convinces the reader that there are 50 million Cultural Creatives. And even if so, their inward turn, their individual pursuits, and their apolitical stance make society-wide transformations, led by Creatives, seem unlikely. The U.S. culture and politics have made a rightward turn over the last decade. Again, where are the Creatives and what is their political influence? Despite their optimism, in the end, the authors see the U.S. as "muddling through" the excesses of modernism. It may even be that instead of shifting towards the Creatives, Moderns need to develop sharper and more critical insight into their material and business dominated world.
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