3 Illich’s book "Tools for Conviviality"

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Ivan Illich published "Tools for Conviviality" in 1973. The full text of the book can be found at the following link:

Tools for Conviviality

As mentioned on this site’s homepage, Illich’s ideas about convivial tools were long out of fashion. A striking illustration of this neglect was that the book "Tools for Conviviality" was out-of-print for many years. However, it seems to have made a come-back, since a new edition is now available, and can be ordered on-line:

Tools for Conviviality at Amazon

Nonetheless, current interest in "Tools for Conviviality" appears to remain marginal.

Illich’s Basic Theme: the Dangers of Institutionalisation

"Tools for Conviviality" appeared just two years after Illich’s best-known work, "Deschooling Society" (1971), and develops further many of the themes set out in the earlier book. The same themes reappear in his subsequent books, notably in "Medical Nemesis" (1976).

Illich’s fundamental thesis in these three books - and throughout all of his work - is that the institutionalisation of competencies diminishes the individual’s ability to acquire them. Thus the institutionalisation of school diminishes our ability to learn, the institutionalisation of technology diminishes our ability to master tools, and the institutionalisation of medicine diminishes our ability to heal and to care for ourselves and others.

Rather than merely lamenting the ubiquitous process of transfer of competencies from individuals to institutions, Illich builds a program for countering this socially harmful tendancy. This pro-active approach is suggested in the books’ titles: we can take positive action to deschool society, and to create new tools that will foster conviviality.

The Structure of the Book

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