The Invention of Creativity: Modern Society and the Culture of the New
June 2017, Polity
Contemporary society has seen an unprecedented rise in both the demand and the desire to be creative, to bring something new into the world. Once the reserve of artistic subcultures, creativity has now become a universal model for culture and an imperative in many parts of society.
In this new book, cultural sociologist Andreas Reckwitz investigates how the ideal of creativity has grown into a major social force, from the art of the avant-garde and postmodernism to the ‘creative industries’ and the innovation economy, the psychology of creativity and self-growth, the media representation of creative stars, and the urban design of ‘creative cities’. Where creativity is often assumed to be a force for good, Reckwitz looks critically at how this imperative has developed from the 1970s to the present day. Though we may well perceive creativity as the realization of some natural and innate potential within us, it has rather to be understood within the structures of a very specific culture of the new in late modern society.
The Invention of Creativity is a bold and refreshing counter to conventional wisdom that shows how our age is defined by radical and restrictive processes of social aestheticization. It will be of great interest to those working in a variety of disciplines, from cultural and social theory to art history and aesthetics.
Introduction: The Inevitability of Creativity
1. Aestheticisation and the creativity dispositif: The social regime of aesthetic novelty
2. Artistic creation, the genius and the audience: The formation of the modern artistic field
3. Centrifugal art: Dissolving the boundaries of art practices
4. The rise of the aesthetic economy: Permanent innovation, creative industries and the design economy
5. The psychological turn in creativity: From the pathological genius to the normalisation of the self as resource
6. The Genesis of the star system: The mass media construction of expressive individuality
7. Creative cities: Culturalising urban life
8. Society of creativity: Structures, dissonance, alternatives
"Whether you think you are creative or not, you should read on. In carefully dissecting the social and historical constitution of this concept, Andreas Reckwitz provides a compelling account of how creativity has become a defining feature of contemporary society."
Elizabeth Shove, Lancaster University
"Reckwitz’s The Invention of Creativity is not a "creative industries" book. It is instead a sociology that addresses not so much the aestheticization of society as the societalization of the aesthetic – of the pervasion of what Reckwitz, with Foucault, calls the aesthetic dispositif. Neither a dismissal nor a celebration, the book is instead a genealogy of creativity – of how homo economicus has metamorphosed into homo aestheticus."
Scott Lash, Goldsmiths, University of London
"With great intelligence and an argument grounded in scholarship, cultural sociologist Andreas Reckwitz shows just why we perceive creativity as a 'natural' human ability, and one that we feel is absolutely essential in order for us to develop and grow as individuals."