Our main thesis is that residential mobility, the very factor that allows Americans to pursue their individual desires, ironically facilitates the uniformity of American landscapes. This is because a move to a “strange land” evokes the desire for familiar objects, including national chain stores. Although starting a new life in a new city is exciting, a residential move also causes a significant amount of stress and anxiety. … This general state of agitation, stress, and overload is expected to lay the foundation for familiarity-seeking behaviors among movers.
-Shigehiro Oishi, professor of psychology at UVA
via Eric Jaffe, in the Atlantic, Why Americans Love Chain Stores: A Psychological Perspective
The economic meltdown of 2008 was not just a crisis of Wall Street, of wanton ﬁnancial speculation, and of an economy debt-bingeing on housing and consumer goods, though all of those things were implicated, but a deeper crisis that ran to the roots of the old Fordist order and the very way of life it had engendered. We are in that strange interregnum when the old order has collapsed and the new order is not yet born. The old order has failed; attempts to bail it out, to breathe new life into it or to somehow prop it back up are doomed to history’s dustbin. A new global economic order is taking shape, but it is still conﬁned within the brittle carapace of the old, with all of the outmoded, wasteful, oil-dependent, sprawling, unsustainable ways of life that went along with it.
The rise of a new economic and social order is a double-edged sword: it unleashes incredible energies, but it also causes tremendous hardships. We are in the midst of a painful and dangerous process, one that is full of unknowns; we tend to forget what a fraught and dangerous business childbirth is. My hope is that by understanding this new order, we can speed the transformation.
Still, that new order will not simply or automatically assert itself into existence. It will require new institutions, a new social compact, and a new way of life to bring it into being. We must turn our attention from a form of economic growth that is reﬂected in housing starts, automobile sales, energy consumption, and other crass material measures to a shared and sustainable prosperity that lifts human well-being and happiness across the board. We must shift from a way of life that valorizes consumption, in which we take our identities from the branded characteristics of the goods we purchase, to one that enables us to develop our talents and our individuality, ﬁnding purpose through our work and other meaningful kinds of activities. Our ﬂedgling creative economy needs to give way to a fully creative society, one that is more just, more equitable, more sustainable, and more prosperous. Our economic future depends on it.
-Richard Florida in The Atlantic, The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited