Richard Florida – Folkhemmet 2.0. The creative class, growth and Sweden's role in a new global order.

9 March 2006

Lecture and panel discussion
Stockholm City hall

A conference with Richard Florida Blå Hallen, Stockholm City Hall 9 March 2006 It’s time for this year’s conference!

About Folkhemmet 2.0

And what’s at stake is nothing less than how Sweden and Stockholm should position themselves in the future. What have we got that sticks out and can create growth, in the face of ever-hardening global competition?

The focus of the conference is Richard Florida, professor at George Mason University and author of two books which have become so widely talked about that they’ve made him one of the global economy’s most quoted, controversial and sought-after thinkers and speakers on society and development. And not without reason. Already in his first book, The Rise of the Creative Class (2003), Richard Florida turned most of the familiar concepts about how societies, cities, nations and corporations are organised on their head.

Florida describes a world which has left the industrial era and entered the creative era – and in fact is some way into that era. The creative class – people who work with research, technology, culture, arts and entertainment – makes up as much as 40% of the population, according to Florida. At least in countries like the United States and Sweden.

This brings big changes. Changes which are not always visible, but which affect us all the more, since they are about new habits, ways of thinking and patterns of life.

The creative class – soon half the population – is made up of independent individuals with high demands on the places where they choose to live and work. They actively seek out areas characterised by openness, tolerance, equality and social welfare.

That is why it is not enough, Florida argues in his second book, The Flight of the Creative Class (2005), just to create jobs. On the contrary, he claims it is time to switch the focus from competitiveness to creativity. This is because all the signs are that people will increasingly be led first to seek an area which is attractive. Then they will let the job come to them. That requires politics and business to collaborate. And the region that succeeds in getting the highest proportion of the population to belong to the creative class will win the race for the future.

Richard Florida often refers to Sweden and Scandinavia in his books. He says that Sweden has a better opportunity than many to play a leading role in the global growth of the future. This is because we have a head start when it comes to soft values such as tolerance, openness, equality and social welfare. Now Richard Florida is coming to Sweden. For a unique lecture in Blå Hallen at Stockholm City Hall. The lecture will be followed by four panel debates about what this might mean from a Swedish perspective. The old welfare state, folkhemmet, built the basis of our values. The question now is: how do we update it to create a new one? How do we create Folkhemmet 2.0?