The creative class pays little attention to the working class

The dominant class in 2022 has stuck to its self-righteousness lifestyle of yoga and oat milk. Moreover, the privileged tend to oppose anything less affluent and highly educated.

This is bad news for those who are not among the winners of 2022. They are feeling even worse than they already were.

recovery plan

The culture is in a pinch after the corona pandemic. State Secretary Gunay Uslu from Culture and Media has just presented his recovery plan for the cultural sector. Recovery, renewal and growth are key. This year it is structurally at € 135 million, after which it will increase to a further € 170 million a year for culture. The future of the cultural and creative field has been under great pressure due to the corona crisis and still faces major challenges.

The Secretary of State is doing something about this on several fronts. It is an excellent initiative and deserves all the praise. The cultural and creative field is the most important trend setter of Dutch culture, they largely determine what the prevailing views are about cultural life, political choices and good taste. But there are still a few chins.

The creative class

Two decades ago, American sociologist Richard Florida found a particular connection between the new creative class’ placement preferences in the high-tech industry and economic growth. Another study showed a link with cities where homosexual communities to live, go out and work without problems – and greater economic growth.

This so-called Gay index similar to what Florida itself had observed: economic growth took place mainly in cities that were open and tolerant, where creativity was an important factor.

Florida’s distinction is global, in addition to the creative class it distinguishes the traditional working class and service industry. And as a subcategory yet another super creative group within the creative class. The big difference between the group of workers and the creative class is the flexible working hours of the latter group.


Statistics Sweden distinguishes between a large number of occupations that are related to the direct artistic occupations. Urban planners, architects, advertising and marketing specialists, curators, writers and journalists, radio and television, interior designers, gallery owners, museums and libraries, they all belong to the creative class.

Their share of the economy is still growing. And many of them live and work in Amsterdam. Amsterdam likes to see itself as an example of Florida’s creative and open community, but immigration is now getting a screw up. Gays unfortunately no longer feel safe on the street.

This creative class, which certainly does not see itself as “class”, often works long hours. Flexibility is highly valued, but it also means they work more hours than their plumbers, even though their plumbers earn more.

Unlike the worker, this group does not stay in one job for a long time, job changes or contracts are fully accepted, people live with the idea that a next job or a new contract is on the horizon. Unlike their parents, they do not want a job for life with a permanent employer. Their buying behavior is also different from that of their parents. A little less on owning, a little more on sharing.

A new byelite

An urban elite has now emerged in the inner cities and in new up-and-coming hip working-class neighborhoods, consisting mainly of a new cultural and social group of young adults. In a number of cases, the character of the district changes drastically, houses are improved and rents increase. New coffee shops, restaurants and clothing stores are popping up. This new group shares a common consumption pattern, they share many common ideas, and they consider knowledge a little more important than income. In this respect, they differ from managers and business consultants.

That knowledge is seen as’cultural capital ‘, they are very environmentally conscious, the food is chosen with care and they are looking for partners who are like them. In other words, they are a new social class that wants to change the world according to their newly acquired insights. This ‘aspiration class’ finds ideas important and is socially and culturally focused on making the right choices; from their careers in an environmentally conscious business to rejecting pre-packaged supermarket bread.

An extravagant lifestyle

This pattern of consumption is very different from the historical pattern that we know from the American elite in the nineteenth century. Sociologist Thorstein Veblen called the hunt for a striking and extravagant consumption pattern conspicuous consumption† procurement and display of expensive and exotic goods to demonstrate social status.

Webl’s book is from 1899, where the wealthy American elite enjoyed a lavish lifestyle with soirees, expensive parties at the Waldorf Astoria with ample champagne, diamond tiaras and necklaces for the ladies, holding butlers, cooks and maids, staff for gardens and stables. They did not work, it was a luxurious life with already present, inherited capital.

Unobtrusive consumption

What we are seeing now is a completely different pattern. The new urban elite has a very different consumption pattern. The choice for yoga, for oat milk in your coffee, for recyclable packaging, for energy-saving measures and a preference for hockey for their children instead of football. There is also an important shift in consumption patterns among the richest upper echelons of executives and tax specialists, where a lot of money is being spent on making life easier.

Childcare, childcare, housekeeping, multiple cars, reading and homework help, home delivery, everything that makes life easy are usually paid for by two salaries. Just as in the macro economy, much of the work is moved ‘outside’ (to the low-wage countries), much of the daily tasks are outsourced outside the family. The old conspicuous consumption has been definitively banned as vulgar, it is now about invisible resp. inconspicuous Spending.

Democratization of consumption

In recent times, you could still stand out with a car, now it is only possible with a ‘classic’, which usually means you keep an expensive second, third or unobtrusive antique car on the road. The Tesla served as a new status symbol for a short time, but that meaning also wears out quickly.

When Veblen wrote his book, the group he described was limited, the rich and prosperous class (leisure class) was a small group at the top of the social pyramid. Exactly that has changed, the democratization of consumption has become a daily fact.

Today’s very wealthy upper class are often the American tech cowboys who derive prestige from their space program and not from racehorses. The very wealthy spend significantly less on extravagant items and dinners than their nineteenth-century predecessors.

What has grown tremendously is their spending on education, their children going to expensive schools and being prepared for the best education through private help. Ivy Leagueschools and universities.

It is striking that the higher the level of education, the more is spent on inconspicuous expenses. Taking care of your health, your income after work, a meaningful use of the time you have trained, taking care of your children, the environment, it’s all much more important than that car.

Capital of Culture

In addition to capital and income, education and above all culture become an important feature. The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu wrote an extensive book about it. He called the cultural capital, not tangible goods and money, but intangible culture has become essential.

Bourdieu sees a connection between class and culture. You belong to a particular group, if you are able to understand the values ​​and aesthetics of that group, you should be able to interpret, so to speak, what a Zen bathroom in slate means and what it difference is between a Porsche and a Lamborghini. His book is not called for nothing Difference: ‘distinguish’.


Status does not arise directly from the car, it is not that simple, it is much more related to access to certain information, other networks, new investment opportunities – and access to other or alleged elites. That is what makes access to Davos from the World Economic Forum so attractive to politicians. You do not need to know exactly what ‘the WEF’ stands for, the program sounds good and ‘the right people’ are interested. You then belong to Saskia Sassen’s ‘global elite’, even if you are not an industrialist.

The whole thing has become much more subtle since Veblen, status has shifted from material goods to intangible culture. We have no one ‘leisure time ‘ more, the global economy is characterized by a meritocracy, a meritocracy that still owns production, but now by knowledge and education, naturally backed by a stock portfolio.

This meritocracy has become dominant, also in the Netherlands, and there is a tendency which is extremely unfavorable for the least educated and lowest paid in our society. Because ‘aspiration class’ with their cultural capital is so convinced of her life, her values ​​and norms and ‘lifestyle’radical decisions are made that ‘sound good’ and almost always have to do with ‘a better environment’, and which in almost all cases have a negative effect on the low-educated and lower income groups.

The losers

The value pattern of meritocracy is in fact a superficial ‘lifestyle’ It feels good and the consequences for the bottom of society are hardly relevant. Because the underside lives in another world and is unable to intervene in this meritocratic world that they do not know, do not trust and can not interpret.

they are ‘tokkies‘or the’regrettable‘by Hillary Clinton, the great losers in our society today. In other words, the noble values ​​of meritocracy often come at the expense of the underclass.

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