Ivan Illich


Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.

Illich, Ivan

(1926-) Viennese-born libertarian philosopher, social critic, and one-time Roman Catholic priest, currently based in Mexico, whose provocative critique of economic development has attracted much attention. Illich regards so-called economic development as, in reality, leading to the destruction of the vernacular skills previously possessed by people in self-sufficient preindustrial economies.

According to Illich, people have become increasingly dependent on professionals, experts and specialists for the satisfaction of many of their fundamental needs – e.g. the provision of health services and compulsory schooling. In Illich's terms, the provision of such services have often become radical monopolies, since, with the destruction of earlier traditions, there is often no longer any alternative but to have recourse to such expert provision, and in many ways the services offered by such experts are debilitating and dehumanizing. leading to ‘passive consumption’ and dependency The solutions proposed by Illich are for more democratic, participatory structures that foster human autonomy, e.g. instead of compulsory education, access to a choice of ‘educational frameworks’; instead of hierarchically controlled specialist services, the establishment of ‘communication networks’ for the mutual exchange of services. Another of Illich's suggestions is that ‘high quanta of energy degrade social relations’ as much as physical milieu, and that, accordingly, the bicycle is the mode of transport most compatible with egalitarian participatory principles. While Illich's thinking is utopian and polemical, his combination of a religious romantic conservatism with radical critique has stimulated sociological reflection. Main works by Illich are Deschooling Society (1972), Tools for Conviviality (1973), Medical Nemesis:

The Expropriation of Health (1975) and Shadow-work (1981). See also DESCHOOLING, HIDDEN CURRICULUM, IATROGENIC DISEASE.

References in periodicals archive ?
The Prophet of Cuernavaca: Ivan Illich and the Crisis of the West.
Goff offers few details on the moment of his conversion, except to acknowledge appreciatively that it was a gradual awakening induced by absorbing the ideas of Stanley Hauerwas, Ivan Illich, Amy Laura Hall, Catharine MacKinnon, John Howard Yoder and others.
Jean-Pierre Dupuy incorporates insights gained in collaboration with Rene Girard and Ivan Illich, which leads him to the discovery that Christianity is not a "religion" like those produced through violence and the concealing of victims, systems that further condone resentment and violence.
Beyond economics and ecology: the radical thought of Ivan Illich.
Large-scale missionary presence was sharply criticized by some, especially Ivan Illich, who feared a long-term "Americanization" of the Latin American church, (5) but essentially, this did not happen.
Ivan Illich argued 30 years ago about the undue "medicalisation" of death that kept people alive at any cost.
Ivan Illich, a renowned 20th century philosopher, warns: 'The escalation of schools is as destructive as the escalation of weapons.
Carl Mitcham, who we read too infrequently in education circles I fear, speaks movingly of the importance of elegiacs as a learning opportunity in the book The Challenges of Ivan Illich (2002).
He admires advocates of social control of technology such as Langdon Winner and David Nye, and the more radically skeptical educator and philosopher Ivan Illich, finding value even in the Unabomber Manifesto.
NEXT TIME YOU'RE INVITED to a '70s party and find your Travoltan eveningwear shrunken, bring a book by Ivan Illich.
6 IVAN ILLICH, TOOLS FOR CONVIVIALITY (HARPER & ROW, 1973) If only the binding of my edition weren't so shoddy
Paolo Freire, the Brazilian revolutionary educationalist, and Ivan Illich, an iconoclastic Catholic priest, originally born in Vienna who made his home in Mexico, were two ardent proponents of the participatory system.