by Sydney L. Murray
Introduction by Sydney
the first time I read the term "Cultural Creatives"
in 1997. The description of this newly discovered segment
of our society resonated with me. If you are unfamiliar with
the term please read Drs. Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson's book
The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing
Our World. I encourage all of you to read this book. Buy it
or borrow a copy. This book, this term, is so profound with
its implications I can only hope that it has the same resonance
for each of you as it has had for me.
book, Ray and Anderson wrote, "So a quarter of the population
of the United States and Europe are Cultural Creatives?"
What's that mean? Why is it important? It means that if you
hunger for a deep change in your life that moves you in the
direction of less stress, more health, lower consumption,
more spirituality, more respect for the earth and the diversity
within and among the species that inhabit her, YOU ARE NOT
ALONE. You are one of a growing number of people who want
to see deep, integral change in the cultures that have evolved
in industrialized nations. One of the main reasons we have
written this book is that we want to make Cultural Creatives
visible to each other. We want Cultural Creatives to realize
that we are the isolated many, not the isolated few. We want
to invite Cultural Creatives to find new ways to work and
How was this body of work was created?
PR: I have a company which I started in 1986 called American Lives. Lives is
an acronym for lifestyles, interests, values, expectations
and symbols. Our research began by looking at values and lifestyles.
The underlying idea was that it should be possible to do a
better job of predicting people's actual behavior " as
in those who vote, those who give to good causes, those who
buy houses and/or cars, organic food or engage in environmental
activities, as well as those who volunteer. Their range of
activities should be a better predictor of their values. It
turned out that those activities turned out to be grouped
in coherent ways of life or lifestyle. People don't want their
lives to be fragmented and are looking for ways that make
it more integrated so that their lives make sense.
In the early
days, back in the eighties, people were talking about things
like "getting into the head" of the voter or of
the consumer. So the initial premise of the social psychology
of people's choices turned out to be wrong. What was true
was that what drives values and lifestyles is the culture
people belong to; the shared meaning and the way of life they
have in common. What we discovered after several years of
doing the surveys was that, in fact, a new subculture was
emerging in the United States.
three competing subcultures in the United States; each of
which has its own worldview, its own understanding of what
reality is, its own way of life and its own values. You have
to say fortune favors the prepared. If somebody was a market
researcher, or an opinion pollster, they wouldn't have picked
up on what I noticed. That is, I asked the question: "Is
this a cultural phenomenon?" Well, if I was witnessing
a third subculture appearing, that's a big deal. I started
looking at five to seven years of surveys and I was getting
a very consistent pattern. This group, this new population,
was always showing up making consumer decisions based on their
values. We asked, "Were they Greens, were they person-centered?"
None of that really caught what was actually going on. Finally
I said, "Aha." I remember it well. It was 1992.
These are the people who are trying to create a new culture.
Literally create a new way of life in America.
two groups in American society are the "Traditionals"
and the "Moderns." They've been having culture wars
for over 100 years. This third group, Cultural Creatives,
were kind of like the children of a bad marriage. They said,
"We don't identify with either side." This was actually
a big deal. This was something that happens once every few
centuries -- a realization that propelled me into going farther
with this research. I received a special grant from Fetzer
Institute through the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1993
and 1994 to do the study that was finished in 1995.
I remember the buzz around the term Cultural Creatives in
were the very first articles that came out in the Institute
of Noetic Sciences publication and in market research publication
called American Demographics.
Your work has huge meaning for me.
What are the origins of your book?
The first estimate from the Fetzer and Institute of Noetic
Science's survey were that there were 44 million Americans
who were Cultural Creatives, which was 23.6% of the population.
Then we did an Environmental Protection Agency survey in January
of 1999, we could see that there had been growth. The
numbers had gone up to 26% or 50 million Americans. It was
pretty obvious that the Cultural Creatives were too few to
measure in the 1960s. So, we knew we had a very long-term
growth process, fairly slow, maybe half a percent a year,
but it had been going on for 40 years. That was the big realization.
We were looking at a fundamental change in what Americans
think. Not only Americans as it turned out, but also about
a third of the population in Western Europe are Cultural Creatives
as well, eighty to ninety million people.
Every year, year after year, we've been
doing surveys and focus groups. Those surveys, incidentally,
add up over a thirteen year period to well over 100,000 people
who were surveyed. Each survey was 600 to 1,200 people. In
addition, there were five hundred focus groups. Then for the
book, we did 60 in-depth interviews lasting four to eight
hours. Cultural Creatives is not just a stick-on label
to put on somebody's forehead. It's a whole new way of life,
a whole new belief system, a whole new set of values.
Moderns have in common is materialism, making a lot of money,
trying to be a success in life, looking good. Modernism is
the dominant culture of the planet at this point. It's been
here in the United States and Western Europe for several hundred
years and dates back 500 years to the Renaissance. The Traditionals,
and it's very important that we say this, Traditionals, really
were the very first counter culture in the United States back
in the 19th century. They were the folks who were losing at
the game of modernism, who couldn't be successes in life.
They were making an innovative stance, oddly enough, but calling
it a return to tradition. They were inventing fundamentalism.
They were inventing the return to the idea that small town
and rural values were more virtuous than big city values.
In order to sound legitimate, they had to claim that they
were returning to an earlier way of life.
The reality was that the people who call
themselves Traditionals, or Social Conservatives, or Cultural
Conservatives, had origins that were completely within the
modern world. (past 100-150 years) Industrialism, urbanization
and bureaucracies were going full blast when they, in effect,
came up with the terms to describe who they (the Traditionals)
were. Such as: Patriarchy should dominate family life. Feminism's
a swear word. This is much different say, if you were in India,
China, or in Iran, and somebody said tradition to the people
who live there. Tradition is something that goes back 4,000-6,000
years. When somebody says tradition in the United States they
might mean 1910, it's not the same thing. So it's important
to note that in the United States, the Traditionals do not
predate the Moderns.
Modern culture is just less than half of the U.S. population,
or about 47-48% of Americans. The Moderns tend to be very
conventional; they take the world as it's given and don't
think too deeply about it. They look to be a success within
the terms of what's around them. You've got two kinds of descent
from it - two types of counterculture. One counterculture,
the Traditionals go back maybe a 150 years as I mentioned
-- and the Cultural Creatives, who go back 40 years. Each
of these has a very important moral objection. The distinction
is that the Cultural Creatives view of morality is much more
complicated, much more nuanced than the Traditionals. That's
very essential to the Cultural Creatives, that their moral
descent has a lot of spirituality in it. The Cultural Creatives
are not particularly either left or right. They're going off
in a new direction all together.
I remember thinking my whole life that I was different. Why
is it Cultural Creatives aren't always aware of where to find
other Cultural Creatives: I know I've wondered.
there's two big reasons. One is the way we got here. Each
of us, individually departed from either Modernism or Traditionalism,
one by one. At some point in your life you had to decide that
what you'd grown up with wasn't satisfying. So you tended
to make your own personal choice. The typical process for
a Cultural Creative is that it might take ten years or more
to draw your actual life into alignment with the things that
you're most concerned about. To find a new way of life, new
occupation, perhaps. Get divorced from the first person you
married. To strike out in what felt like a new departure.
What we didn't realize is that there were so many other people
doing the same thing.
So, I often
say that Cultural Creatives are like an audience: all facing
in the same direction. A big part of the next step is for
Cultural Creatives to learn each other's stories, to develop
a sense of community, start picking their own leaders, having
their own politics, and so on. There's all sorts of social
inventions the Cultural Creatives are making, and they are
scattered throughout the whole book.
is that Cultural Creatives are very heavy users of information.
They pay a lot of attention, and if they don't see their own
faces in the media they've concluded, logically, that there
must not be very many people like me. The reality is they're
looking into a very biased mirror. What happens if we give
Cultural Creatives unbiased mirrors? So they see their own
faces? Then they will, of course, start concluding that there
are a lot of folks out there just like me and that there's
opportunities to do new things.
I had read in your book that women make up more than half
of all Cultural Creatives.
are 60% of Cultural Creatives. In the core group, the people
who are most active, most committed, most interested, it's
two to one women. That has major implications. To a large
extent this is about women's values and concerns coming into
the public arena and becoming a much more important part of
When you think of the Moderns, you think male oriented, business
oriented. I've read quite a bit on how women are changing
the face of politics, (Emily's List) getting more involved
in business (Can you say Oprah?). Women are the majority of
small business owners in this country.
like to draw your attention to part two of the book,which
indentifies where the Cultural Creatives as a whole population
came from. To make a long story short, there have been 20
kinds of social movements going on over the last 40 years.
On page 115 there is a list of these movements. These are
the things that brought the Cultural
into existence. For example, a typical Cultural Creative cares
about a half a dozen or more of these movements. It doesn't
mean that they are on the barricades, or sitting Zen in the
Zen Centers necessarily, but they read everything, they send
money, they pay close attention to what goes on in the media.
You'll notice that there are both consciousness movements
and social movements listed there.
social movement is not just the people who are publicly active
and visible, it's the entire population who support them.
So in many cases you are talking about tens of millions, hundreds
of millions of people as in the case of the environmental
movement. A fundamental goal of all these new movements was
to change people's minds. That's a very important idea.
A good example
would be Martin Luther King, Jr. and the black freedom movement,
which a lot of people called the civil rights movements, but
it's not just about civil rights it's about freedom. Martin
Luther King said, 'This is about freedom and justice and the
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and the
promise all of us Americans made to ourselves about what kind
of people we wanted to be and the kind of world we want to
a fundamental reframing of all the old issues of ethnic politics
of the Irish, the Jews and the Italians, which was at its
peak in 1962. The same year Rachel Carson talked about the
death of nature. When the birds, the bees, the frogs and the
fishes all die, humans will die next. The same year Betty
Friedan published The Feminine Mystique.
say women had to crash through the glass ceiling? No, she
said, "This is about who women are as human beings and
how our concerns will be brought into the larger public arena."
She asked, "What is our true identity as women?"
All in the same year. We were also seeing the appearance of
alternative health care and holistic health concerns for the
very first time. They said, "This is about real wellness,
real health and not just catastrophic medicine." All
of those reframings were supplying new eyeglasses to look
at the world through; were giving us new causal models on
how things work; were demystifying old traditional beliefs.
They, in effect, were building a new worldview.
ways of thinking are, in fact, what becomes part of the new
culture, the new worldview, a planetary worldview instead
of a nationalistic worldview, instead of the fragmented factoids
projected in the media. What they're going to do is insist
on the importance of their own deep, direct experience. It's
very important that we see that piece by piece each aspect
of spirituality, feminism and all the other environmental
issues, social justice, peace and so on, have been reinterpreted,
have changed the minds of Americans in a gigantic collective
learning experience over the last 40 years.
a chapter that your readers might like called "Waking
Up" on how the consciousness movements work. Another
chapter is about the social movements and the consciousness
movements all flowing together to make one giant movement
of movements. With that overlap among all the movements, incidentally,
there's a 40 to 80% overlap in the constituencies. Can you
believe that? It's the same people. In terms of the big constituencies,
guess who it is? It's the Cultural Creatives.
share a common worldview and a common tradition of protest.
They want the disintegration of an old modernist American,
Western European culture and the appearance of a new replacement
culture. This culture is in the process of being created and
that's why I call these folks Cultural Creatives. They are
the folks who are the carrier population, the possibility
of the next renaissance coming along.