Urban Forum

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 405–423 | Cite as

A ‘Creative Class’ in South Africa’s Arid Karoo Region

  • Mark Knightley IngleEmail author


There is an increasing number and variety of creative small enterprises in South Africa’s desert Karoo region. The Karoo has come to acquire considerable cachet in recent years and is being rebranded as a desirable tourist destination. It has also attracted many well-qualified and experienced migrants from urban areas. This paper draws on mainstream ‘lifestyle media’ coverage to describe this phenomenon and examines it through a lens informed by Richard Florida’s influential work, The Rise of the Creative Class. The concept of the ‘creative class’ refers to those people who make a living from creative pursuits, including artists, designers and knowledge-based professionals. The paper analyses a sample of entrepreneurs in-migrants to the Karoo, and speculates on what informs the recent re-visioning of the region. It posits the new rural ‘creative class’ as a form of social capital and explores some of the implications of this for the socio-economic upliftment of the Karoo.


Karoo Creative class Post-productivist Local economic development Entrepreneurship 



An early version of this paper was presented at the Desert Knowledge Symposium held in Alice Springs, Australia in November 2008. The author gratefully acknowledges financial support from AusAID and from the University of the Free State to attend this event.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Development Support (CDS)University of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa
  2. 2.PhilippolisSouth Africa

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