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Ivan Illich

(1926—2002) Austrian-born American educationist and writer


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(1926–2002)

Illich was one of a number of critical thinkers who, in the 1970s, questioned the ways in which society was organized. Like Ernst Schumacher, author of Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered (1973), designer, architect, engineer, and thinker Richard Buckminster Fuller, author of Utopia or Oblivion (1970), and others whose voices were heard in the debates about post‐industrialization, Ivan Illich wrote a number of texts that embraced parallel concerns. Most significant among these were De‐Schooling Society (1971) and Tools for Convivality (1973), in which he argued that Fordist technologies turned people into the adjuncts of bureaucracies and machines. Illich was born in Vienna and later studied theology in Rome and history at the University of Salzburg in the 1940s, writing a doctoral thesis on the historian Alred Toynbee. After being ordained as a priest in Rome in 1951 he moved to Manhattan, where he worked for the Puerto Rican community. After periods in Puerto Rico he moved to New Mexico, where he established the controversial Centre for Intercultural Documentation and, from 1964, organized seminars on ‘Institution Alternatives in a Technological Society’. A fiercely critical voice in the Roman Catholic Church he applied his antipathy to bureaucracy in education and other institutions in his search for alternatives to industrial monopolies in a post‐industrial age. Although he continued to write prolifically, his influence was at its height in the 1970s.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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