The Collective Imagination explores the social foundations of the human imagination. In a lucid and wide-ranging discussion, Peter Murphy looks at the collective expression of the imagination in our economies, universities, cities, and political systems, providing a tour-de-force account of the power of the imagination to unite opposites and find similarities among things that we ordinarily think of as different. It is not only individuals who possess the power to imagine; societies do as well. A compelling journey through various peak moments of creation, this book examines the cities and nations, institutions and individuals who ply the paraphernalia of paradoxes and dialogues, wry dramaturgy and witty expression that set the act of creation in motion. Whilst exploring the manner in which, through the media of pattern, figure, and shape, and the miracles of metaphor, things come into being, Murphy recognises that creative periods never last: creative forms invariably tire; inventive centres inevitably fade. The Collective Imagination explores the contemporary dilemmas and historic pathos caused by this-as cities and societies, periods and generations slip behind in the race for economic and social discovery. Left bewildered and bothered, and struggling to catch up, they substitute empty bombast, faded glory, chronic dullness or stolid glumness for initiative, irony, and inventiveness. A comprehensive audit of the creativity claims of the post-modern age - that finds them badly wanting and looks to the future - The Collective Imagination will appeal to sociologists and philosophers concerned with cultural theory, cultural and media studies and aesthetics.