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Berger Blog

Expanding the discussion of Generatonal issues in organizations, Leadership, and Individual & Professional Growth.

Cultural Creatives: A potential bridge

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

This past weekend, I attended a workshop put on by a colleague where he addressed, among other things, some of the emerging social norms that may have some real impact on our society moving forward.

As many readers have seen in this space before, the shifting demographics among the generational groups making up our society has already had a profound impact on how we work, how we play, and what is considered “normal” in our world.  I mean, what percentage of the people did you see walking down the street with a Venti Starbucks in one hand and a cell phone in the other five years ago?  (Of course, today they have a Bluetooth earpiece in their ear so it just looks like they’re having an animated conversation with their coffee!)

The point that my colleague raised came out of a different method of slicing and dicing US society.  Cultural Creatives was written by Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson in 2000, in which he broke society down into three groups:  the Traditionals, the Moderns, and the Cultural Creatives.  He describes the cultural creatives this way:

The Cultural Creatives care deeply about ecology and saving the planet, about relationships, peace, social justice, and about self actualization, spirituality and self-expression. Surprisingly, they are both inner-directed and socially concerned, they're activists, volunteers and contributors to good causes more than other Americans. However, because they've been so invisible in American life, Cultural Creatives themselves are astonished to find out how many share both their values and their way of life. Once they realize their numbers, their impact on American life promises to be enormous, shaping a new agenda for the twenty-first century.

Where this idea is interesting to me is the way that is cuts across the Generational dynamics that I’ve been talking and writing about.  When I describe Millennials as people who have a greater commitment to tolerance, community development and support, and actively work to bring resources together because they know the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, it sounds like they are Cultural Creatives.

When I talk about Gen-Xers who are fed up with the institution because they refuse to be fooled by the Political message and the spin, and are turned off by conventional norms because they see the damage that is being done to the planet, they sound like Cultural Creatives.

Many  Boomers are reverting back to the values and dreams that they had when they were young in the 60s. Of course for many of them, they got sucked into the vortex of their productive years, where they strove to out-earn, out-spend, and out-consume their peers.  But now, they are realizing that they are, in fact, part of the problem and they want to use all of their “success” to become part of the solution. They sure do sound a bit like Cultural Creatives.  

The book and the ideas in it are an interesting and different packaging of our society that will not take the place of Generational distinctions, but it provides one of the bridges to build across the Generational Divide.


posted by Michael Berger, 10:19 AM

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