Posted by    |    March 17th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

A love of nature and wanting to be a steward of it is one of the characteristic of a Cultural Creative

In terms of real estate and lifestyle shifts, there is a large segment of the population that removed itself entirely from the new home market in the 1990s because it was so alienated by what it saw happening there. The people who comprise this group (roughly one-quarter of the U.S. population), described as “Cultural Creatives” by a 1997 American Demographics magazine article, were more than ready for an alternative. It now appears that they have adopted the “Not So Big” movement as their rallying cry. This paradigm shift does not necessarily mean small or cramped. In my opinion, it relates to efficiency and scale in residential design. In many ways, the Not So Big House, although ostensibly about house design, is also about how we choose to live, what’s important for a balanced existence, and what will insure a healthy planet and community for future generations. Cultural Creatives are eager to live their own lives in a way that supports their values. The “Not So Big” philosophy and lifestyle help them to do this. By starting with the design of their own homes, making it a place that fits their simpler and more meaningful lifestyles, they feel that they can make a small but noticeable contribution to solving the current crisis of scale and consumption of the earth’s  natural resources.

Most Cultural Creatives redecorate, remodel, or design a new home, rather than buy an existing new house, because the market doesn’t really give them what they want in a new home. In thirteen years of doing research on the housing desires of Americans, Not So Big homes actually deliver more of what this emerging subculture of 50 million Americans really wants.

–Paul H. Ray, Ph.D., Co-author of The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World, Harmony Books, 2000.


Cultural Creatives is a term coined by sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson to describe a large segment in Western society that has recently developed beyond the standard paradigm of Modernists or Progressives. The concept was presented in their book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World (2000), where they claim to have found that 50 million adult Americans (slightly over 25% of the adult population) can now be identified as belonging to this group.

Ray and Anderson created a questionnaire to identify Cultural Creatives in Western society. Some of the characteristics below were identified as qualities of this group. Agreement with 10 or more indicates status as a Cultural Creative.

  • Love of nature and deep caring about its preservation and its natural balance.
  • Commitment to staying active throughout life
  • 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 causes about which they are passionate
  • Interest in spiritual and psychological development
  • Desire for equity in diverse populations in business, life and politics
  • Concern and support of the well-being of all
  • Not supportive of the extremes at either end of political spectrum
  • Optimistic towards the future
  • Want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life
  • Unlikely to overspend or be in heavy debt
  • Curiosity about  people, places and things that are different or exotic–and tend to like them

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 all individuals

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