The Cultural Creatives

From the New Age Journal–1997 edition: cited on:

The Rise of the Cultural Creatives

A NEW PHENOMENON is emerging in American culture, according to the results of a recent social research survey. We are at a watershed in history, when the country is shifting away from the modern technocratic society toward what sociologist Paul H. Ray calls “Integral Culture,” concerned with spiritual transformation, ecological sustainability, and the worth of the feminine. For readers who espouse these values, Ray’s findings are likely to be very comforting. The standard bearers of Integral Culture, who Ray calls “Cultural Creatives,” now number 44 million. That’s one quarter of the United States population. At this moment in history, he says, “The potential for launching a cultural revitalization movement is dazzling.” Still, Ray warns, there is no guarantee the current momentum will continue into the next century, or that Integral Culture will become the dominant force. It is largely up to those who identify themselves as Cultural Creatives to create the new story.

America is experiencing a renaissance of values, the author argues. He calls it Integral Culture, composed of the spiritually and ecologically aware. Is this the future? And are you a standard bearer? Are you a Cultural Creative?

VALUES OF THE CULTURAL CREATIVES: The distinctive values, commitments, and beliefs of the Cultural Creatives – the most conspicuous representatives of the emerging Integral Culture – may be summarized as follows:

ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY, BEYOND ENVIRONMENTALISM: Any aspect of ecology and sustainability you can name, Cultural Creatives are emphatically for it – and are leading the way. They demonstrate awareness of a large range of issues, and their values include wanting to rebuild neighborhoods and communities, achieving ecological sustainability, supporting limits to growth, seeing nature as sacred, wanting voluntary simplicity, and being willing to pay for cleaning up the environment and stopping global warming.

GLOBALISM: Among the top values of Cultural Creatives are xenophilism (love of foreigners, the exotic, and travel to foreign places), and ecological sustainability, which includes concern for planetary stewardship and global ecology, and concern for population problems.

FEMINISM, WOMEN’S ISSUES, RELATIONSHIPS, FAMILY: The fact that women make up 60 percent of the Cultural Creatives is a key to understanding this subculture. Much of the focus on women’s issues in politics comes from them, including concerns about violence and abuse of women and children, the desire to rebuild neighborhoods and communities, the desire to create caring relationships, and concerns about family.

ALTRUISM, SELF-ACTUALIZATION, ALTERNATIVE HEALTH CARE, SPIRITUALITY, AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY: Cultural Creatives hold a complex of highly correlated beliefs and values centered on the inner life. This represents a new sense of the sacred that sees a unity between personal growth psychology, the spiritual, and service to others. It also includes a stronger trend toward holistic health and alternative health care.
WELL-DEVELOPED SOCIAL CONSCIENCE AND SOCIAL OPTIMISM: Contrary to what some social critics have argues, an emphasis on the personal does not exclude a social conscience or political concern. Cultural Creatives are as engaged in the world as they are in personal and spiritual issues. Rebuilding and healing society are related to healing oneself, physically and spiritually. With that goes a guarded social optimism.

According to Wikipedia:

Sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson estimated that there were an additional 80–90 million Cultural Creatives in Europe as of 2000. Ray and Anderson created a questionnaire to identify Cultural Creatives in Western society. The below characteristics were identified as qualities of a Cultural Creative. Agreement with 10 or more indicates status as a Cultural Creative.


• love of nature and deep caring about its preservation, and its natural balance.
• strong awareness of the planet-wide issues (i.e. climate change, poverty etc.) and a desire to see more action on them
• being active themselves as well (e.g. cradle2cradle principle)
• willingness to pay higher taxes or spend more money for goods if that money went to improving the environment
• heavy emphasis on the importance of developing and maintaining relationships
• heavy emphasis on the importance of helping others and developing their unique gifts
• volunteer with one or more good causes
• intense interest in spiritual and psychological development
• see spirituality as an important aspect of life, but worry about religious fundamentalism
• desire equality for women/men in business, life and politics
• concern and support of the wellbeing of all women and children
• want politics and government to spend more money on education, community programs and the support of a more ecologically sustainable future
• are unhappy with the left and right in politics
• optimism towards the future
• want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life
• are concerned with big business and the means they use to generate profits, including destroying the environment and exploiting poorer countries
• unlikely to overspend or be in heavy debt
• dislike the emphasis of modern cultures on “making it” and “success”, on consuming and making money
• like people, places and things that are different or exotic


Ray and Anderson assert that “values are the best single predictor of real behavior”. The list below outlines the values that dictate a Cultural Creative’s behavior:

• Authenticity, actions must be consistent with words and beliefs
• Engaged action and whole process learning; seeing the world as interwoven and connected
• Idealism and activism
• Globalism and ecology
• The importance of women

Core Cultural Creatives also value altruism, self-actualization, and spirituality.

I hope that by learning about the Cultural Creatives you feel encouraged to know about the many people who are actively taking part in creating a more enlightened culture to help us live a more conscious and conscientious lifestyle.

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