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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgment

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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Correspondence to Mark Knightley Ingle.

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Ingle, M.K. A ‘Creative Class’ in South Africa’s Arid Karoo Region. Urban Forum 21, 405–423 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-010-9095-4

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Keywords

  • Karoo
  • Creative class
  • Post-productivist
  • Local economic development
  • Entrepreneurship