Geography

Title

Class-ifying London: Questioning social division and space claims in the post-industrial metropolis

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class of 2002 ends with a clarion call for a post-industrial, post-class sensibility: 'The task of building a truly creative society is not a game of solitaire. This game, we play as a team.' Florida's sentiment has been echoed across a broad and interdisciplinary literature in social theory and public policy, producing a new conventional wisdom: that class antagonisms are redundant in today's climate of competitive professionalism and a dominant creative mainstream. Questions of social justice are thus deflected by reassurances that there is no 'I' in team, and that 'we' must always be defined by corporate membership rather than class-based solidarities. The post-industrial city becomes a post-political city nurtured by efficient, market-oriented governance leavened with a generous dose of multicultural liberalism. In this paper, we analyze how this Floridian fascination has spread into debates on contemporary urban social structure and neighbourhood change. In particular, we focus on recent arguments that London has become a thoroughly middle-class, post-industrial metropolis. We evaluate the empirical claims and interpretive generalizations of this literature by using the classical tools of urban factorial ecology to analyze small-area data from the UK Census. Our analysis documents a durable, fine-grained geography of social class division in London, which has been changed but not erased by ongoing processes of industrial and occupational restructuring: the central tensions of class in the city persist. Without critical empirical and theoretical analysis of the contours of post-industrial class division, the worsening inequalities of cities like London will be de-politicized. We suggest that class-conscious scholars should only head to Florida for Spring Break or retirement. © 2012 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Title

City

Publication Date

2012

Volume

16

Issue

4

First Page

395

Last Page

421

ISSN

1360-4813

DOI

10.1080/13604813.2012.696888

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