In defence of the lowly hipster

I’ve got an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun today where I poke fun at the Fairmont Waterfront’s recent job posting for an internship as a “busperson”, then argue the following:

  • Economic growth is ending.
  • We’re gonna be OK.
  • As we transition, our societies should take inspiration from hipsters.

Now, I know that’s a controversial term. I don’t mean it as a pejorative. Most of the arguments over who’s a hipster have focused on aesthetics, which I think misses the point.

I’m really just using it as shorthand for young people who:

  • Have abandoned the dream of endless growth
  • Have no interest in taking on debt to join the consumer economy
  • Instead pursue quaint, old-fashioned hobbies.

Those activities — especially the ones related to saving money, reducing waste and increasing food security — are built on underlying economic ideas that I think we should scale up in a big way.

Anyway, please click here and check out the article, if only to vote for more discussion of the post-growth economy in the pages of the Vancouver Sun.

On a related note, do you have any 16 to 25-year-olds I can borrow this Saturday? I’m moderating a free all-day youth forum at SFU Surrey, about the future of the BC economy. I think young peoples’ voices are important in this conversation and luckily three local elected officials agree, so we get to have a live panel discussion and grill some politicians and eat free sandwiches.

Call me nerdy, but that’s my definition of a fun Saturday. You can read more about the forum and sign up by clicking here. We’ve got about 160 people signed up so far but the fire marshal says we can bring in another 40. If you’re a bit younger than 16 or older than 25, no sweat. No one is going to whisk you off to Carrousel. I’d love to see you there.




  1. Katherine Hajer said:

    I completely agree with the entire article, except for the age factor. That’s because I’m 43 and have been having the exact same discussions and concerns since I was 16.

    Sure, there’s been some “growth” spurts in the economy, and must of us found more or less full-time employment (if you count being a contractor), but really it feels like far too much mainstream economic thinking is stuck, at best, in the 1950s and 60s, and there’s far too few opportunities to break out from that and still make rent (or, better, find a way to not need to make rent).

    I read this article at the end of a week where the casual ageism being thrown around, both youngsters against oldsters and oldsters against youngsters, really shifted for me from “annoying” to “counterproductive”.

    Can’t we join together and just call ourselves a catchier version of People Who Think This Sucks and Needs to Change instead of focusing on “you must be this young to take this ride” red herrings?

    • Yes! We need a new word for ourselves. PWTTSANDTC for now.

  2. dan murphy said:

    god, that’s beautifully written

  3. I get the need for youth engagement (why stop at 16 and 26) but as a 66-year-old still aspiring to hipsterness, I totally get where Katherine is coming from. There’s much to chew on in the article, ideas that promote co-operatism vs. corporatism and defy the capitalist mantra of perpetual growth which is mostly code for greed and materialism. “For the economy to grow as it is currently structured, people have to buy new houses and shop more” This piece pushes all the right and important buttons for the age. Get this message into the schools.

  4. Ken Barth said:

    I really enjoyed the op-ed; my view has been that the youth/young adults are not even paying attention so appreciated reading that young people are not wearing blinders, or have the wool pulled over their eyes.

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