Education in the Creative Economy

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* Book: Education in the Creative Economy: Knowledge and Learning in the Age of Innovation. Edited by Daniel Araya & Michael A. Peters. Peter Lang, 2010


Selection of P2P-oriented material:

  • John Seely Brown: Foreword

  • Michael A. Peters & Daniel Araya: Introduction: The Creative Economy: Origins, Categories and Concepts

  • 10. Michael A. Peters: Creativity, Openness and User-Generated Cultures

  • 14. Matteo Pasquinelli: The Ideology of Free Culture and the Grammar of Sabotage

  • 15. Michel Bauwens: Towards a P2P Economy

  • 21. Erica McWilliam, Jennifer Tan, & Shane Dawson: Creativity, Digitality and 21st Century Schooling

  • 22. (A.C.) Tina Besley: Digitised Youth: Constructing Identities in the Creative Knowledge Economy

Guide to the Contents

Michael Peters and Daniel Araya (from the Introduction):

Part One: Educational Policy

"In Part One, Educational Policy, we examine the contours of the creative economy in the context of educational policy, looking particularly at the rising importance of education for creativity and innovation. Tracing current socio-economic discourse on the creative economy, we examine the underlying logic of creativity and innovation and consider the factors of production that are linked to national systems of education.

Chapter 1 begins with Araya’s examination of the creative economy discourse in the context of education and the changing dynamics of the global economy. In his view, digital networks serve as platforms for collective intelligence and should be seen as the key to renewing systems of education in advanced countries.

In Chapter 2, Cunningham & Jaaniste explore the policy milestones that mark the evolution of creativity in public policy. As they conclude, education policy today must support a rapprochement of the arts and sciences in order to better coordinate disciplines and engender the necessary human capital for an emergent creative economy.

In Chapter 3, Florida, Knudsen, & Stolarick offer an empirical study of the economic role of universities through the lens of Florida’s 3Ts (technology, talent, and tolerance) of economic development. They suggest that the university’s role in the first T, technology, while important, is overemphasized by most theories on innovation; they contrast the trend by examining the role of universities in attracting and mobilizing talent, and in establishing a diverse social climate.

In Chapter 4, Flew examines dynamic trends in economic geography and considers their implications for universities. As he concludes, universities that see their future development as linked to creative clusters will need to make serious commitments to the social environments in which they are embedded.

In Chapter 5, Hearn & Bridgstock pose the question: “to what extent do current education theory and practice prepare graduates for the creative economy?” They go on to explore innovation, transdisciplinarity, and networks as the core of the creative economy and examine the need for redesigning educational policy and practice for this changing milieu.

In Chapter 6, Brown and Lauder critique the technocratic account of the knowledge economy. Challenging the dominant theories on education in a global knowledge-based economy, they argue that supra-national forces, including transnational corporations, have exploited the digital revolution to organize and standardize global production under a kind of “digital Taylorism.”

In Chapter 7, Pitroda explores the need for a paradigm shift in education. Outlining the goals behind India’s National Knowledge Commission, he elaborates on a blueprint for reform of knowledge institutions and infrastructure to support India’s knowledge economy. As he suggests, education is critical to India’s future. In Chapter 8, Lundvall, Rasmussen, & Lorenz consider the constant need for new competencies in an age in which innovation makes knowledge obsolete. Looking at learning and education from the context of Europe’s learning economy, they argue that educational policy should focus on collaboration and interdisciplinarity in order to prepare people for participation in a learning economy and society.

Finally in Chapter 9, Rooney argues that a lack of adequate conceptual frameworks for knowledge production keeps policymakers unnecessarily anchored to an instrumentalist logic. Instead, he links knowledge and creativity to wisdom and values, and explores the complex adaptive systems out of which creativity and wisdom emerge.

Part Two: Technology and Economy

In Part Two, Technology and Economy, we look closely at information and communications technologies and their relationship to collaboration in the creative economy. Beyond the command-and-control systems characteristic of industrial society, digital technologies have become fundamental to a network society. Technology is now so critical to such a wide range of overlapping industries and disciplines that conventional boundaries seem to be breaking down. Underlying this socioeconomic restructuring is the critical importance of digital networks as platforms for collaborative innovation.

Chapter 10 begins with Peters’s exploration of openness and creativity from the perspective of decentralized networked communications and a global knowledge economy. As he points out, digitization transforms all aspects of cultural production and consumption. New digital logics alter the organization of knowledge, education, and culture and spawn new technologies as a condition of open innovation.

In Chapter 11, Aigrain, Chan, Guédon, Willinsky, and Benkler reflect on the notions of peer production introduced in Benkler’s landmark book, The Wealth of Networks (2006). Aigrain begins by asking, “How does the growth of information commons and related non-market activities interact with the monetary economy?” Chan explores a parallel question in terms of human development and poverty alleviation. Guédon, in turn, considers the broader anthropological questions introduced by peer production. Lastly, Willinsky compares Benkler’s work with Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776/1910) and ponders the implications of peer production for transforming education. In response, Benkler attempts to answer these difficult questions in terms of the emergent logic of peer production itself.

In Chapter 12, Howkins considers the tension between intellectual property (as the lynch-pin of a creative ecology) and the growing importance of commons-based peer production. What, he asks, is the right way to regulate the ownership of ideas in the twenty-first century?

In Chapter 13, Fitzgerald & Shi examine copyright issues emerging with the evolutionary dynamics of networked innovation and ask the question “to what extent should copyright law allow copyright owners the right to control reproduction and communication to the public?” In their view, copyright law should not only facilitate the opportunity to create but also make possible the opportunity to distribute and communicate creative material to the broadest possible audience.

Following on Fitzgerald & Shi, Pasquinelli makes a dynamic argument for defending the commons against capitalist exploitation. In his view, the grammar of sabotage has become the modus operandi of the multitudes captive to the network society of cognitive capitalism. Simply put, sabotage has become the only possible gesture to defend the commons.

In Chapter 15, Bauwens argues that peer production represents a revolutionary mode of political economy that transcends capitalism. Beyond the recent economic crisis, he explores the possibilities of a phase transition into a postcapitalist era centered on peer production.

In Chapter 16, Murphy examines Schumpeter’s notions of innovation in light of the recent global recession and the ongoing competition between various economic and social dogmas. As he suggests, creativity is born of paradox and contradiction; cultures that can internalize and integrate opposing views are the crucibles of peak creation.

In Chapter 17, Landry summarizes his notion of the creative city and attempts to assess how creative thinking and new forms of learning might play a role in the creative ecology of cities. As he suggests, the Creative City is ultimately driven by learning because learning and education are central to the creative milieu.

Lastly, in Chapter 18, Nederveen Pieterse offers a critical review of the challenges facing the United States and other advanced capitalist countries under the spell of innovation rhetoric. The main problem for the United States, he concludes, is that American corporations have become complacent, dependent upon low-wage, low-tax, and low-regulation environments.

Part Three: Culture and Curriculum

In Part Three, Culture and Curriculum, we examine the growing importance of cultural production and explore the interface between innovation and design in the context of educational renewal. While a society based on industrial production could once effectively deliver a single, standardized curriculum in support of a Fordist economy, it is becoming obvious that the twenty-first century requires a different model of education. Today, public education systems desperately need to be redesigned to embrace tools and practices that tap the indigenous talents of students.

Balsamo begins Part Three with an examination of the rapid technological changes impacting knowledge and learning. In this context, she explores the notion of the Singularity and considers the key institutional elements necessary to cultivate the “technological imagination.” In Chapter 20, Whitney considers the fundamental economic and technological challenges facing schools today. As he suggests, schools need to become creative hubs at the center of networks of learning and innovation.

Following Whitney, McWilliam, Tan, & Dawson examine the challenges of embedding ICTs in contemporary public schools. As they suggest, the nexus between creativity and digitality has become critical to the educational sector, and yet schools appear to be unable to make the necessary cultural and pedagogical shift to meet this challenge.

In Chapter 22, Besley considers the growing questions surrounding youth identity in a digital age. Looking particularly at recent empirical research on youth identity, she examines the creativity of youth in the construction of emergent subjectivities while engaging and negotiating social media. In her view, creativity has become fundamental to a post-Fordist age, and yet schools and universities seem to actively discourage its development.

In Chapter 23, Cormier asks “What is the curriculum for creativity and innovation?” He suggests that the answer lies with the community as curriculum. That is, community as a distributed learning network in which learning is collaboratively generated and shared.

In Chapter 24, McCulloch-Lovell explores the “creative campus” movement and asks the question, “Are colleges and universities truly fostering the conditions in which innovation and creativity flourish?” In her view, valuing creativity means developing systems, measures, and even budgets that encourage creativity.

In Chapter 25, Parsons examines the importance of art education in educating for creativity. He suggests that art is the only subject where creativity is an inherent value of the subject as a conceptual structure. While the current discourse of social and educational policy stresses the importance of nurturing creative scientists, mathematicians, and technologists, he suggests that art and design have a special relation to creativity and should therefore be an explicit target of teaching.

In Chapter 26, de la Fuente observes that art is now so fully integrated with economics that the global economy increasingly functions as if art were the model for the whole of the market. In his view, one of the key institutions in this transformation has been the emergence of the art school, and its’ blending of the bohemian with the entrepreneur.

Following de la Fuente, Holden explores the need to democratize the arts in order to ensure that they are not the preserve of a cultural elite. In his view, a community of self-governing citizens, a demos, understands, creates, and reinvigorates itself through culture. He argues that the aim of a democratic society is to release the talents of all its citizens and not just an elite few.

In Chapter 28, Cope and Kalantzis consider the importance of design to the creative economy. They examine design as both a discipline and a process of meaning making, and explore a future-oriented agenda for Design vocations.

Finally in Chapter 29, Strand asks the question: “What are our images of creativity? And how do these images relate to our ways of seeing workplace learning within the new and globalized symbolic economy?” In this chapter, she addresses these questions through three philosophical discourses that metaphorize creativity as “expression,” “production,” and “reconstruction” in the context of workplace learning."




Rise of the Creative Economy

In the last twenty years, we have moved from the postindustrial economy to the information economy to the digital economy to the knowledge economy to the “creative economy.” The notion of creative economy, pioneered in different ways by Charles Landry, John Howkins, Richard Florida, and Charles Leadbeater early in this decade, increasingly has become associated with postmarket notions of open source public space, democratized creativity, and intellectual property law that has been relativized to the cultural context emphasizing the socio-cultural conditions of creative work. Alongside this development, the notion of entrepreneurship, as interpreted originally by Schumpeter, breaks out of its business origins, becoming a rubric for larger transformation, and a set of infrastructural conditions enabling creative acts. Likewise the endogenous growth theory developed simultaneously by Paul Romer and others in economics has opened a space for the primacy of ideas and installed continuous innovation as mainstream OECD economic policy. These moves have brought to the forefront forms of knowledge production based on the commons and driven by ideas not profitability per se; and have posed the question of not just “knowledge management” but the design of “creative institutions” embodying new patterns of work.

Education in the Creative Economy

We seem to be moving into a different world now; a world in which the raw materials are no longer coal and steel produced by machines but creativity and meaning produced by the human imagination. Beyond conventional discussions on the knowledge economy, many scholars suggest that creative work and a rising “creative class” are fomenting shifts in advanced economies from mass production to creative innovation. Emerging along several paths, Charles Landry, John Howkins, and Richard Florida have been pioneers in understanding these dynamics. The publication of Landry’s The Creative City (2000), Howkin's The Creative Economy (2001) and Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class (2002) have catalyzed a rich discourse on the value and importance of creativity to the global economy. Laying the foundations, John Howkins offered the first account of this new economy, even as Charles Landry explored the possibility of developing benchmarks for stoking creative cities. Most recently, Richard Florida has offered an empirical account of the logic and dynamism of the creative economy. We know that creativity and innovation have become critical to understanding the complex challenges facing us in the twenty-first century. In this volume we examine the contours of the creative economy discourse and consider its implications for education. Bringing together eminent scholars and practitioners from around the world, we consider the need for new modes of education that respond to the growing importance of creativity to a global economy and society.

John Dewey once said that education is the foundation for an ever-evolving economy and culture. This vision has clearly become reality today. Much as the assembly line shifted the key factor of production from labor to capital, computer networks are now shifting the key factor of production from capital to innovation. It seems increasingly clear that information and communications technologies (ICTs) are restructuring global production so that innovation is now anchored to social networks that criss-cross nations, cultures, and peoples. Much as the assembly line shifted the critical factor of production from labor to capital, computer networks are now shifting the critical factor of production from capital to innovation.

In Education in the Creative Economy, we want to explore the need for new modes of education that can effectively tap the collective intelligence that powers these social networks. One of the major questions that we explore through this book is “What systems, policies and structures are most conducive to making it possible for the largest number of people in a society to participate in the creation and development of new cultural forms?” Creativity has become the economic engine of the twenty-first century. No longer the preserve of creative industries, “creative capital”—in the form of innovative thinking, professional skill, and networked collaboration—has become crucial to the global economy. Harnessing these creative capacities is now fundamental to renewing education today. This volume is offered as an initial foray into this new territory."

Chapter 11: Symposium on the Wealth of Networks


  • Jean-Claude Geuneon: Towards ‘Phonemic’ Individualism

"Whereas division of labour is seen by Smith as the result of a top-down, managerial intent, as a production masterplan that sets everyone in a well-defined role, Benkler, when he deals with the ‘green’ world, sees the division of labour as an emergent phenomenon stemming from interactions between individuals: out of the constant dialogues, discussions and debates fluid roles arise. Like eddies in a stream, these roles enjoy relative, but only relative, stability. Individuality, in this perspective, sums up the possible role shifts one person may live through.

In the ‘Green’ world, individuals are found positioning themselves temporarily in one role or another according to the relations they develop with other individuals. In other words, in the green world, individuality is no longer built like an atom, in full self-sufficiency. It is no longer an individual simply endowed with ‘properties’ – the whole polysemic wealth of the term is needed here – but rather an individual whose very essence, paradoxically, depends on his/her relations with other individuals. More precisely, existence depends on distinguishing oneself from others.

A form of individuality that necessarily rests on the individuality of others calls for a general interpretative scheme that goes beyond what earlier theories of society have contributed. It goes beyond an ‘emanation’ or holistic theory of individuals, based on divinities and their human proxies, leading to a feudal vision of society. It cannot limit itself to the self-sufficient atom-like individual that stands as the foundation of the liberal age (where ‘liberal’ here means adherence to the tenets of classical economics). We must therefore reach beyond emanation and atom-like individuals to reach for a third kind of individuality. Let us call this third way the ‘phonemic’ approach. Although as powerful in its reach as the holistic or atomistic approaches, it has not been used nearly as much until now.

What is a ‘phonemic’ approach’? It is based on the concept of phoneme, of course. Here, it is adduced as, in a sense, a synthesis of the holistic and atomistic explanatory modes: imagine a universe where every existing entity would have the appearance of an atom, but, simultaneously, would appear to emanate from a number of these other apparent atoms. Let us add that the emanation is not a transitive, transparent process: the link between two phonemic entities is not guided by some form of analogy, but, on the contrary, by some distinctive characteristic. The total result could be described as a ‘peer-to-peer emanation system’. Phonemes, in the field of phonology, behave precisely in this manner. They exist only by being distinct from other phonemes. The existence of one entity depends on the existence of all, and it also depends on maintaining a distinctive uniqueness with respect to all of the other entities. Their existence marks the fact that their difference makes a difference – precisely the definition of information according to Gregory Bateson. They offer, therefore, a powerful metaphor to think beyond atomistic or emanation-based individualism.

What Yochai Benkler is founding with his important book is not only a revision of the market concept, or of the division of labour that accompanies it. What Yochai Benkler is really inviting us to do is to revisit our understanding of markets and division of labour in terms of a new form of individuality that cannot be thought within the atom category, or denied on account of a divine hierarchy out of which everything emanates (and to which it must return).

What remains difficult to apprehend with social phenomena such as the free software movement, Wikipedia and other peer-to-peer processes that seem to fly in the face of longaccepted notions of ‘human nature’ becomes far more comprehensible if we begin to look at human beings behaving like phonemes. If we remember that phonemes relate to language and that human beings do speak, the metaphor appears far less contrived. On the other hand, the reasons why human beings should be apprehended as emanation of some wholeness can only be based on faith. And if human beings chose to apprehend themselves as the similes of as atoms, it may simply have been a reaction to that faith. Neither emanation nor atoms need language incidentally, but human beings distinguish themselves through language. And the full deployment of language requires the existence of phonemic individuals. The wealth of networks, therefore, lies in phonemic individuality. Any other approach to human beings will simply be sub-optimal and that is the fundamental thesis of Yochai Benkler’s crucial work."

Chapter 23: Community as Curriculum, by David Cormier

"Most of us have, in spite of ourselves adjusted—at least incrementally—to this transmission-focused military model of education. There is a sense in many educators’ minds that learners need to explore their way through their learning, and have the experience of learning, of searching out ideas and discovering them for themselves. This process, though, is usually bounded by the learning objectives laid out at the beginning of the course of study by the designer/instructor. There is still, implicit in most widely held conceptions of learning that the instructor, designer, or at least the institution knows what a learner should get out of a given course.

The problem, then, only comes into play when we are not sure what “people should be learning.” What is the curriculum for innovation? How do we impart creativity? Where do students turn to be guaranteed that they are learning what is new and current? These are the questions that face us on a more or less regular basis now. As knowledge becomes a moving target and the canon starts becoming less reliable, we need a new—or in fact an old—model of education drawn out on a new canvas: community.

The answer is to stop trying so hard, to stop looking for a systemic solution, and to return to a human-based knowledge plan. We need to return to community as a valid repository for knowledge, and away from a packaged view of knowledge and expertise. Knowledge can be fluid; it can be in transition, and we can still use it. We need to tap into the strength provided by communities and see the various forms of community literacy as the skills we need to acquire in order to be effective members of those communities.

Community as curriculum is not meant as a simple alternative to the package version of learning. It is, rather, meant to point to the learning that takes place on top of that model and to point to the strategies for continuing learning throughout a career. There is a base amount of knowledge that is required to be able to enter a community, and there are methods for acquiring the specific kinds of literacy needed to learn within a specific community. A learner acquires basic forms of literacy and associates with different peer groups. Networks begin to form and, occasionally, communities develop. Knowledge is created and sometimes discarded as the community interacts. Knowledge does not develop and spread from and through concentric circles. There are no “plastics” to be learned and no canon to consult to ensure that a new skill has been acquired. Knowledge is a rhizome, a snapshot of interconnected ties in constant flux that is evaluated by its success in context. We need a move toward a more practical, sustainable learning model that is less based on market-driven accreditation and more on the inevitable give and take that happens among people who engage in similar activities and share similar forms of literacy and worldviews.

The rhizomatic view of learning reflects an organic, practical approach to thinking about learning and knowledge. It has a distinct connection to the traditional academic knowledge model, with its interlinking references and people. Each piece of information and knowledge is interlinked and supported by at least one other element, with no one place where knowledge about a matter begins or ends. The rhizomatic model, in contrast to the academic one, keeps the knowledge in the people and in the community rather than distilling it into a paper based product – be it the final publication of a journal, book or other ‘changeless medium.. The problem with the paper publishing cycle is the time it takes to proceed through the entire cycle, and the constraints on time and space that go along with the medium place severe restrictions on the flexibility and applicability of the academic tradition. It is not to say that it is not valuable, just that it does not always—and cannot always, today—respond in ways that meet the needs of learners in a world where what is known in many fields changes from month to month.

If we are working in a field where what is new or current is continually in flux, then we need to have a way of keeping our knowledge up to date. With the huge increase of academic publications, the simple process of choosing has become more difficult, and the sifting through what is out there a significant task for any professional. Our ideas of learning and knowledge need to become more flexible to allow for this mutability. “The term [rhizomatic learning] encapsulates a sort of fluid, transitory concept; the dense, multi-dimensional development and integration of several different sets of tools and approaches, appearing in diverse forms under separate settings, using all the multidimensional networking information technology tools, the social web, etc.” (Szucs, 2009, p. 4). rhizomatic learning distributes the channels of knowing outside traditional hierarchical models and into the social realm, allowing for help in sifting through the flow of information and knowledge. These “social learning practices are allowing for a more discursive rhizomatic approach to knowledge discovery” (Cormier, 2008, p. 3). rhizomatic knowers use a variety of approaches and tools to blend together bits of information and knowledge in order to form what they need. They especially need a learning community to help them test ideas, filter information and knowledge, and seek advice." (

For a longer excerpt, which includes a distinction of two different types of community, see here at

Afterword by Pat Kane:

See here: Play, the Net, and the Perils of Educating for the Creative Economy