For many years I have envisioned the possible psychological archetype of individuals in the coming ‘Enlightened Economics’ era. After much thought and research, I believe it is likely to resemble that of what sociologist Paul Ray calls the “Cultural Creative.” He coined the term back in the 1990s after performing two extensive surveys on Americans’ psychological values for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help understand and categorize Americans’ values to assist in the development of their environmental policies.
Who are the Cultural Creatives (CCs)?
In 2000, Dr. Ray co-authored with Sherry Ruth Anderson the book, Cultural Creatives (CCs), where they describe CCs as caring “…. deeply about ecology and saving the planet, about relationships, peace, and social justice, about self-actualization, spirituality, and self-expression.” They suggested that in the year 2000 there were more than 50 million CCs in America (about 25 per cent of the U.S. adult population) and a further 80-90 million in Europe. In a private conversation I had with Dr. Ray in 2002, he indicated that CCs could dominate western populations as early as 2020. I believe a case could now be made that this will occur much earlier than that.
Spiritual and personal development were at the centre of the values of the founding ‘core’ CCs. Referring to the early development of CCs, Dr. Ray and Ms. Anderson state, “As the ranks of beginners kept growing [in the 1960s], hundreds of thousands stayed with the process and went deeper. By the 1980s, the ‘movements’ numbers had swelled to a million or so, and by the 1990s, tens of millions were involved… But the consciousness movement-full of contradictions, shallow and deep, bubbling with new developments-is still in the phase of accelerating growth.”
CCs imbibe the values of Enlightened Economics
As explained in my various posts (The Missing Ingredient in Economics — Consciousness; Retiring the GDP (Gross Domestic Product, etc.) the fundamental shift I envisage in individual consciousness is towards that of global ecology, spirituality and social justice. This fits very well with the definition of CCs.
Though Dr. Ray has not completed further surveys in recent years as to the growth of CCs in western or global populations, it is clear from the enormous escalation of interest in green products and services, the environment, ethical investing, corporate social responsibility, spirituality, etc., that the numbers in the CC camp are growing significantly.
The ranks of the CCs are being filled from a group Dr. Ray refers to as ‘Moderns.’ The Moderns are the governing group in western societies. Their primary values concern money and status.
As the Moderns decline, the CCs gain
In the U.S., Moderns number close to half of the population. Dr. Ray and Ms. Anderson in their book explain the role of Moderns as “… the normative culture found in the office towers and factories of big business; in banks and the stock market; in university science labs and high tech firms; in hospitals and most doctors offices; in mainline churches and synagogues; in the ‘best’ schools and colleges …and most ‘mainstream’ and newspaper articles. The standard we take for granted, the rules we live by, are made by and for Moderns.”
However, the Moderns are declining in number as their values, focusing on financial materialism, status and lack of altruism, are under attack from both within and outside of their group. Increasingly, such values alone are seen as insufficient to meet the challenges of our world. The shenanigans on Wall Street – with the sub-prime mortgage and derivative fiascos and the gross irresponsibility of corporate elites – are some of the many reasons encouraging countless Moderns to re-align their values. Thus, unknowingly, they convert to the ranks of the CCs.
The expected era of Enlightened Economics necessitates a psychological archetype that reflects the demands of a new global epoch. This new epoch requires values depicting openness to the unfamiliar; a sense and inner experience of the unity of all things; and a deep caring for nature, the environment and humanity. And it also includes a realization that a new vision of global economics is critically needed. Cultural Creatives (CCs) heading to be the majority in numerous countries, imbibe these qualities. As such, their psychological archetype is the one I believe will dominate in the forthcoming age of Enlightened Economics.
© Ron Robins, 2008.