Matthew Taylor has produced a new RSA Short to accompany the current drive to embrace creativity across society. See it below…
Matthew draws from his recent RSA Chief Executive’s lecture.
The message, that we should all embrace our creativity, is a telling one. Rigid thinking can bring with it the warm comfort of supposed ‘certainty’. However, to the creative mind ‘…every individual has the freedom and opportunity to develop their unique capabilities to the full’.
Oliver Reichardt, the RSA Director of Fellowship states that ‘…this concept will be central to our work(The RSA) in the future’. We warm to the sentiment at conversationsEast.
In his lecture Matthew argues that we stand on the edge of a vast plain of opportunity. Social, technological and philosophical changes in the last century have the potential to enable every person to be creative, in the widest sense.
His core argument cites Amartya Sen, amongst others, who have argued that with the creativity that education and open-ness deliver, runs alongside a reliance on resources. These must be garnered, deployed and accounted for too.
He does stress that in this century those resources are, or can be for most, free. This journal, for example, is a product of imagination and the utilisation of Open Source software to create and deliver information and opinion to a social network.
Although we would bind ourselves to the argument it does not fully extend itself, yet, into the sphere of hardware. The technology we need to deploy free assets still comes at a cost, a la Amartya Sen.
Matthew also presses us to the concept that creativity is not the sole remit of high culture alone. For a creative individual, it is perhaps starting a new socially focused enterprise, writing and publishing new works or working with others to deliver societal change.
This notion of ‘the social’ is a strong theme in the lecture. Matthew argues for the collapse of ‘Fordism’ and traditional passive consumption of services in the local authority arena. The social transaction in the workplace and wider civic society itself undergoing dramatic change at the social/technological interface. This change, the lecture makes clear, is still under way. Destination unknown.
In the final part of the lecture we hear of two key restraints on creativity.
One is the ever increasing ‘gap’ to reach those who enjoy privilege and wealth. Matthew cites Thomas Piketty’s recent argument that the traditionalist, narrow pyramidal social and economic structures of the past continue to eat into the resources, and undertake exploitation of, the majority in the present. The spectre of Marx is at the feast, even for Piketty.
Secondly, the Weberian notion of ‘splitting’ is a key restraint argued for by our lecturer. ‘Social pyramidism’ is reflected in the largest corporations, whether in the civic domain or in private hands. Where individuals are completely constrained by function and hierarchy…to the detriment of their own creativity.
We would probably extend this argument slightly further, in that the traditionalist, elitist and pyramidal organisation creates a culture of fear, not of creativity. All creative people recognise the tone of those emails, the sense of ‘beyond my pay grade’, that any attempt at initiative and new thinking can create.
This personal creativity is fostered, we would argue, in the private, domestic domain to the disregard of the corporate structures that the individual labours under….perversely perhaps, in order to acquire the technology to be properly free.
In conclusion, the lecture pitches us into the argument of ‘civic effects’, where success for a creative society will be an ad-mixture of engagement in civil society, the activation and support of creative ‘doers of things’ and the press to change entrenched behaviours, in order to disrupt the traditional pyramidal approach.
It’s a powerful argument from and for the RSA and should be heard widely.
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