Williams and Currid’s “2 Cities, 5 Industries”

CORRECTION: In the initial version of this post, I wrongly confused Sarah Williams and Ezliabeth Currid’s paper “2 Cities, 5 Industries” with their “Geography of Buzz” paper. Thanks to Elaine for pointing out my error.

With that in mind, this post is about Williams and Currid’s new paper “Two Cities, Five Industries: Similarities and Differences Within and Between Cultural Industries in New York and Los Angeles” is marked “Do Not Cite Without the Permission of the Authors”, but as it is online and as Sarah Williams was interviewed by the New York Times today, I think it’s worth a look.

Currid and Williams drill down literally to street level to examine diaggregated data about the cultural industries in New York and Los Angeles. In doing so, they are able to generate a far more fine-grained analysis of cultural industries location and co-location that previous analyses:

Three distinct findings emerged: 1) When the cultural industries are disaggregated into distinct industrial sectors (art, fashion, music), important differences between them emerge. 2) Each type of cultural industry “behaves” similarly in LA and NYC despite differences in scale, geography and urban configuration. 3) Some cultural industries tend to co-locate (e.g. art with design), and this co-location remains constant in both locations.

Currid, the author of the fascinating 2007 book The Warhol Economy, is a self-described follower of Richard Florida and in the context of the sometimes vituperative criticism that Florida has received, I think it’s very interesting to see a researcher getting on with filling out the research program Florida articulated in The Rise of the Creative Class.   

Currid and Williams also engage head-on with the contemporary debate in cultural economics and geography over the “creative  cities / clusters / classes” debate in a knowledgable and wide-ranging discussion. The result is one of the best papers I’ve read in recent times.


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