Kotkin comes to Denmark to kick R. Florida

April 17, 2008

This was my first conference I attended. It was in Aarhus on Friday 4 April, and was organized by Dansk Industri, an organization that represents some of the largest Danish companies. There were more than 100 people invited including Mayors, Kommune (City/County Government) officials, policy-makers, business representatives and some academic people (me!), The guest speaker was Kotkin, a professor from Champan, a relatively small liberal arts college in California. It is important to understand the context of this conference. Last month, the famous Richard Florida came to Denmark to explain and preach his ideas about the creative class, the idea that has made him rich and famous, with his conferences worldwide and bestseller books. I participated in a blog of my previous class, and I already commented about what I think about him. To sum up I would say in my humble opinion, that he is a very clever person who wrote what most of the people want to read (in a certain extent this includes me). That is what a make a bestseller author, isn’t? Florida brought many interesting ideas, although his methodology and some of its conclusions are quite questionable. He created controversy which certainly helped him to be known.  While I attended a semester at Georgia Tech, my remarkable supervisor Dr. Philip Shapira, had Florida’s book as one mandatory reading in one of his classes. I used the book to make a class report, about the “Creative Class in Spain” (my home country) with a ranking of the top 10 cities, so I could better understand Florida’s ideas, but that’s another issue. The point is that his ideas were pointed out as blatantly leftist or in other words a Democrat with a hidden agenda.  Many we understand that Florida’s thinking can irritate many groups.

I could understand that the Dansk Industri, could organize a conference with a guy like Kotkin, which went besides “the hip and the cool” and “beyond the creative class”, all ideas inherent to Florida’s work. If Florida is in the political left, Kotkin was well established in the right (many might not agree in both positions I have pointed out for them). Kotkin called the Danish system, a very liberal one, (for clarifications meaning liberal in the American sense, relates to the political left – In most Europe, liberal means to be in the political right side). If you heard and Americans calling the  French or Scandinavian, liberals, you know he comes from a conservative wing in the U.S., if he then says that the most important thing  is the family, or as he called it “the bedrock of the society”, and that all policies should be headed towards improving this. Then you’re 100% sure he’s a hardcore republican. I’m all about the family, but I think it is already taken for granted that families, parents, children, and humans well alike, are the most important thing in this world.
I’m originally from Spain, but I have lived over 3 years in the U.S. and my wife is American, I have lived a year in Denmark, where I have chosen to work and study now. One of the reasons me and my wife we chose to be here, is for the wide support they give here to the family. So it’s hard for me to take the opinion of someone saying that if Denmark does not support the family in its economics and urban planning, like the U.S. does, Denmark could not be prosperous in 15 years.
In my opinion Kotkin had a bias view of Europe’s society (although he mentioned in the middle of his presentation he studied Latin for 7 years… ) and even less knowledge about Denmark. However he brought some interesting points for the discussion of economics and urban planning. He ridiculed the idea of some cities trying to be cool, he never mentioned Florida, but it was clear he was pointing at Florida’s idea about how “cool towns” attract knowledge or creative people. Kotkin explained a discussion about how some people thought that Florence became a great city because of its culture and arts, he opposed to this idea saying it was the economy which made it a great city.
p.s. They served a great lunch!

3 Responses to “Kotkin comes to Denmark to kick R. Florida”

  1. […] 16 May, 2008 This post is like a continuation of Kotkin comes to Denmark to kick R. Florida […]

  2. […] material, and I have found the very first notes. That was from my first day as  a PhD student when I went to a presentation of Joel Kotkin. As I explain it was partly done as a presentation to contrarrest the influence of Richard Florida […]

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