Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviviality and lifelong learning

The picture 'obsolesence is by Tony Hall and is reproduced here under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) Creative Commons licence. It was sourced from Flickr.

Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviviality and  lifelong learning. Known for his critique of modernization and the corrupting impact of institutions, Ivan Illich’s concern with deschooling, learning webs and the disabling effect of professions has struck a chord among many informal educators. We explore key aspects of his theory and his continuing relevance for informal education and lifelong learning.

contents: introduction · early life · ivan illich and cidoc · later work and life · ivan illich on institutionalization and commodification · illich’s convivial alternative · conclusion · further reading and references · links

Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question. Ivan Illich Deschooling Society (1973: 9)

Ivan Illich (1926 – 2002) rose to fame in the 1970s with a series of brilliant, short, polemical, books on major institutions of the industrialized world. They explored the functioning and impact of ‘education’ systems (Deschooling Society), technological development (Tools for Conviviality), energy, transport and economic development(Energy and Equity), medicine (Medical Nemesis), and work (The Right to Useful Unemployment and its Professional Enemies; and Shadow Work). Ivan Illich’s lasting contribution was a dissection of these institutions and a demonstration of their corruption. Institutions like schooling and medicine had a tendency to end up working in ways that reversed their original purpose. Illich was later to explore gender, literacy and pain. However, his work was the subject of attack from both the left and right. In the case of the former, for example, his critique of the disabling effect of many of the institutions of welfare state was deeply problematic. From the 1980s on he became something of a forgotten figure, although there were always a number of writers and practitioners in the fields he wrote about who found significant possibility in his analysis. Andrew Todd and Franco La Cecla (2002) have commented that his great contribution was as an archaeologist of ideas, ‘someone who helped us to see the present in a truer and richer perspective’. In this piece we examine his legacy.

Early life

Ivan Illich was born in Vienna. His father, Ivan Peter, was a civil engineer. This meant that Ivan Illich, along with his younger, twin brothers were able to live comfortably, attend good schools and travel extensively in Europe (Smith and Smith 1994: 434). Illich was a student at the Piaristengymnasium in Vienna from 1936 to1941, but was expelled by the occupying Nazis in 1941 because his mother had Jewish ancestry (his father was a Roman Catholic). From this point on Ivan Illich became something of a wandered – travelling the world and having the minimum of material possessions. He completed his pre-university studies in Florence, and then went on to study histology and crystallography at the University of Florence. At this point Ivan Illich decided to enter and prepare for the priesthood. Her went to study theology and philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome (1943-6). In 1951 he completed his PhD at the University of Salzburg (an exploration of the nature of historical knowledge). One of the intellectual legacies of this period was a developing understanding of the institutionalization of the church in the 13th century – and this helped to form and inform his later critique.

The picture of Ivan Illich is reproduced under the terms of a GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 from Wikipedia Commons.On completing his PhD Ivan Illich began work as a priest in Washington Heights, New York. He was there until 1956. His congregation was largely Irish and Puerto Rican. In Washington Heights, Ivan Illich was soon speaking out for Puerto Rican culture, ‘and against “cultural ignorance” on the part of the dominant culture’ (Smith and Smith 1994: 434, see, also, Illich’s reflections in Celebration of Awareness, pp. 29 – 38). He had become fluent in Spanish and several other languages (during his life he was to work in 10 different languages).

Ivan Illich and the Centre for Intercultural Documentation (CIDOC)

Ivan Illich then went onto to be vice rector of the Catholic University of Ponce in Puerto Rico. However, he spent only four years there, being forced out of the university in 1960 because of his opposition to the then Bishop of Ponce’s forbidding of Catholics to vote for Governor Luis Munoz Marin (because of his advocacy of state-sponsored birth control). Illich founded the Centre for Intercultural Formation (initially at Fordham University) to train American missionaries for work in Latin America. While still committed to the Church, Ivan Illich was deeply opposed to Pope John XXIII’s 1960 call for north American missionaries to ‘modernize’ the Latin American Church. He wanted missionaries to question their activities, learn Spanish, to recognize and appreciate the limitations of their own (cultural) experiences, and ‘develop assumptions that would allow them to assume their duties as self-proclaimed adult educators with humility and respect’ (Smith and Smith 1994: 435).

From the start he wanted the institution to be based in Latin America – and after walking and hitchhiking several thousand miles he decided on Cuernavaca, Mexico. With the help of Feodora Stancioff and Brother Gerry Morris he set up shop. The Centre was renamed Centre for Intercultural Documentation (CIDOC) and provided an opportunity for several hundred missionaries each year to join, in Ivan Illich’s words, ‘a free club for the search of surprise, a place where people go who want to have help in redefining their questions rather than completing the answers they have gotten’ (quoted in Smith and Smith 1994: 435). The critical and questioning stance of the Centre, and its freewheeling ways of work in began to cause some concern amongst key elements of the Catholic hierarchy. Illich was not one to mince his words:

Upon the opening of our centre I stated two of the purposes of our undertaking. The first was to help diminish the damage threatened by the papal order. Through our educational programme for missionaries we intended to challenge them to face reality and themselves, and either refuse their assignments or – if they accepted – to be a little bit less unprepared. Secondly, we wanted to gather sufficient influence among the decision-making bodies of mission sponsoring agencies to dissuade them from implementing [Pope John XIII’s] plan. (Illich 1973b: 47-8)

Ivan Illich was ordered by the Vatican to leave CIDOC, but he managed to hold out – eventually resigning all offices and church salaries, and then leaving the priesthood in 1969. The Centre had broadened its appeal considerably – and became known for explorations of the many the themes that have become identified with Illich.

Illich’s concerns around the negative impact of schooling hit a chord – and he was much in demand as a speaker. His books, The Celebration of Awareness and Deschooling Society brought his thinking to a much wider audience – as did the work of CIDOC colleagues such as Everett Reimer (1971). His chronicling of the negative effects of schools and his development of a critique of the ‘radical monopoly’ of the dominant technologies of education in Deschooling Society (1973) echoed concerns held well beyond libertarian and anarchist circles. He went on to apply his critique to energy consumption (Energy and Equity – 1974), and memorably to medical treatment (in Medical Nemesis – 1976). In Tools for Conviviality (1975), Illich provided a more general exploration of his concerns and critique and offered some possible standards by which to judge ‘development’ (with an emphasis on mutuality, human-scale technology etc.). Throughout he infused his work with an ecological understanding.

Later work and life

Interest in his ideas within education began to wane. Invitations to speak and to write slackened, and as the numbers of missionaries headed for Latin America fell away, CIDOC began to fade. Illich’s thinking did not resonate with dominant mood in the discourses of northern education systems. At a time when there was increasing centralized control, an emphasis on nationalized curricula, and a concern to increase the spread of the bureaucratic accreditation of learning, his advocacy of deinstitutionalization (deschooling) and more convivial forms of education was hardly likely to make much ground.

Ivan Illich’s later work ranged across a number of areas – but have generally carried forward the central themes of his earlier work. The pieces in Toward a History of Needs (1978) and Shadow Work (1981) largely look to the economics of scarcity, (i.e. that the predominant dynamic in both ‘developed’ and ‘under-developed’ economies lies in the desire to profit through the provision of goods and services in sectors where there is a ‘scarcity, rather than the wish to share subsistence). Gender (1982) looks to the social experiences of female/male complementarity. In the mid- to late 1980s Ivan Illich turned to and exploration of literacy practices in ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind (1988) and in In the Vineyard of the Text (1993).

Ivan Illich had set himself against building up a school of followers (Finger and Asún 2001: 7). However, as Carl Mitcham has argued, his thought and life have had an influence on a small, but close circle of friends (see Ivan Illich Studies below). Representative of what might be called the Illich community of reflection are, for example, Barbara Duden’s The Woman Beneath the Skin: A Doctor’s Patients in Eighteenth-Century Germany, Wolfgang Sachs’ The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, Lee Hoinacki’s El Camino: Walking to Santiago de Compostela and David Schwartz’s Who Cares? Rediscovering Community.

After the 1980s Ivan Illich divided his time between Mexico, the United States, and Germany. Currently he was a Visiting Professor of Philosophy and of Science, Technology, and Society at Penn State – and also taught at the University of Bremen. He continued to live frugally and ‘opened his doors to collaborators and drop-ins with great generosity, running a practically non-stop educational process which was always celebratory, open-ended and egalitarian’ (Todd and La Cecla 2002). He engaged in a ‘heroic level of activity’ – in the early 1990s he was diagnosed as having cancer. True to his thinking (as expressed, for example, in Medical Nemesis) he insisted on administering his own medication. This was against the advice of his doctors, ‘who proposed a largely sedative treatment which would have rendered his work impossible’ (Todd and La Cecla 2002). He was able to finish a history of pain (which will be published in French in 2003).

Ivan Illich died on December 2, 2002.

Institutionalization, expert power, commodification and counterproductivity

As Ian Lister commented in his introduction to After Deschooling, What? (Illich 1976: 6), the central, coherent feature of Ivan Illich’s work on deschooling is a critique of institutions and professionals – and the way in which they contribute to dehumanization. ‘[I]nstitutions create the needs and control their satisfaction, and, by so doing, turn the human being and her or his creativity into objects’ (Finger and Asún 2001: 10). Ivan Illich’s anti-institutional argument can be said to have four aspects (op. cit.):

A critique of the process of institutionalization. Modern societies appear to create more and more institutions – and great swathes of the way we live our lives become institutionalized. ‘This process undermines people – it diminishes their confidence in themselves, and in their capacity to solve problems… It kills convivial relationships. Finally it colonizes life like a parasite or a cancer that kills creativity’ (Finger and Asún 2001: 10).

A critique of experts and expertise. Ivan Illich’s critique of experts and professionalization was set out in Disabling Professions (1977a) and in his exploration of the expropriation of health in Medical Nemesis (1975b). The latter book famously began, ‘The medical establishment has become a major threat to health’ (ibid.: 11). The case against expert systems like modern health care is that they can produce damage which outweigh potential benefits; they obscure the political conditions that render society unhealthy ; and they tend top expropriate the power of individuals to heal themselves and to shape their environment (op. cit.). Finger and Asún (2001: 10) set out some of the elements:

Experts and an expert culture always call for more experts. Experts also have a tendency to cartelize themselves by creating ‘institutional barricades’ – for example proclaiming themselves gatekeepers, as well as self-selecting themselves. Finally, experts control knowledge production, as they decide what valid and legitimate knowledge is, and how its acquisition is sanctioned.

A critique of commodification. Professionals and the institutions in which they work tend to define an activity, in this case learning, as a commodity (education), ‘whose production they monopolize, whose distribution they restrict, and whose price they raise beyond the purse of ordinary people and nowadays, all governments’ (Lister in Illich 1976: 8). Ivan Illich put it this way:

Schooling – the production of knowledge, the marketing of knowledge, which is what the school amounts to, draws society into the trap of thinking that knowledge is hygienic, pure, respectable, deodorized, produced by human heads and amassed in stock….. [B]y making school compulsory, [people] are schooled to believe that the self-taught individual is to be discriminated against; that learning and the growth of cognitive capacity, require a process of consumption of services presented in an industrial, a planned, a professional form;… that learning is a thing rather than an activity. A thing that can be amassed and measured, the possession of which is a measure of the productivity of the individual within the society. That is, of his social value. (quoted by Gajardo 1994: 715)

Learning becomes a commodity, ‘and like any commodity that is marketed, it becomes scarce’ (Illich 1975: 73). Furthermore, and echoing Marx, Ivan Illich notes the way in which such scarcity is obscured by the different forms that education takes. This is a similar critique to that mounted by Fromm (1979) of the tendency in modern industrial societies to orient toward a ‘having mode’ – where people focus upon, and organize around the possession of material objects. They, thus, approach learning as a form of acquisition. Knowledge become a possession to be exploited rather than an aspect of being in the world.

The principle of counterproductivity. Finger and Asún (2001: 11) describe this as ‘probably Illich’s most original contribution’. Counterproductivity is the means by which a fundamentally beneficial process or arrangement is turned into a negative one. ‘Once it reaches a certain threshold, the process of institutionalization becomes counterproductive’ (op. cit.). It is an idea that Ivan Illich applies to different contexts. For example, with respect to travel he argues that beyond a critical speed, ‘no one can save time without forcing another to lose it…[and] motorized vehicles create the remoteness which they alone can shrink’ (1974: 42).

The lines of this critique and argument with respect to schooling when set out like this are reasonably clear. But Ivan Illich in his earlier writings tended to ‘obscure the essential elements’ (Lister 1976: 5). He is ‘an intellectual maverick who deals in metaphors and allegories’ and those who did not read the related works ‘were often confused as to what deschooling was all about’ (ibid.: 5-6). A further problem was that, according to Gajardo (1994: 719), Ivan Illich’s writings ‘were founded essentially on intuition, without any appreciable reference to the results of socio-educational or learning research. His criticism evolves in a theoretical vacuum’. Gajardo goes on to suggest that this may explain the limited acceptance of his educational theories and proposals. However, perhaps the most significant problem with the analysis is the extent to which Illich’s critique ‘overrated the possibilities of schools, particularly compared with the influence of families, television and advertising, and job and housing structures’ (Lister 1976: 10-11). This was something that Ivan Illich recognized himself when he was later to write of schools as being ‘too easy targets’ (1976: 42). It may well be that the way in which he presented his critique was taken as condemning the school out of hand (Gajardo 1994: 719). However, as Finger and Asún 2001: 11) have commented,

Illich is not against schools or hospitals as such, but once a certain threshold of institutionalization is reached, schools make people more stupid, while hospitals make them sick. And more generally, beyond a certain threshold of institutionalized expertise, more experts are counterproductive – they produce the counter effect of what they set out to achieve.

It can be persuasively argued that Ivan Illich ‘transgressed a cardinal rule’ about what discourses are acceptable within education (Gabbard 1993). He questioned the ‘messianic principle’ that schools as institutions can educate.

Ivan Illich’s critique remains deeply suggestive. While not rigorously linked to data, nor fully located in its theoretical traditions, it does nevertheless draw some important lines for exploration and interrogation; and provides us with some means by which to make judgments about the impact of institutions and experts. The dominance of the school and institutionalized education in our thinking about learning has tended to obscure and undermine other everyday or ‘vernacular’ forms. We have moved into a period when knowledge has become more commodified (see, for example, Leadbeater’s 2000 discussion of the knowledge economy).

Convivial alternatives

I believe that a desirable future depends on our deliberately choosing a life of action over a life of consumption, on our engendering a lifestyle which will enable us to be spontaneous, independent, yet related to each other, rather than maintaining a lifestyle which only allows to make and unmake, produce and consume – a style of life which is merely a way station on the road to the depletion and pollution of the environment. The future depends more upon our choice of institutions which support a life of action than on our developing new ideologies and technologies. (Illich 1973a: 57)

The word ‘convivial’ has an immediate appeal for many educators and animateurs in that in everyday usage it looks to liveliness and being social (enjoying people’s company). However, while bring concerned with individual interaction, Ivan Illich was also interested in institutions and ‘tools’ – physical devices, mental constructs and social forms. He argued for the creation of convivial, rather than manipulative institutions and saw conviviality as designating the opposite of industrial productivity.

Conviviality, Ivan Illich argued, involves ‘autonomous and creative intercourse among persons, and the intercourse of persons with their environment’ (ibid.: 24). He sees this as being in ‘contrast with the conditioned response of persons to the demands made upon them by others, and by a man-made environment’. He continues:

I consider conviviality to be individual freedom realized in personal interdependence and, as such, an intrinsic ethical value. I believe that, in any society, as conviviality is reduced below a certain level, no amount of industrial productivity can effectively satisfy the needs it creates among society’s members. (op. cit.)

In convivial institutions (and the societies they make up) modern technologies serve ‘politically interrelated individuals rather than managers’. (Illich 1975: 12). Such institutions are characterized by ‘their vocation of service to society, by spontaneous use of and voluntary participation in them by all members of society (Gajardo 1994: 716). Ivan Illich (1975a) uses “convivial” as ‘a technical term to designate a modern society of responsibly limited tools’. He applied the term “convivial” to tools rather than to people, he said, in the hope of forestalling confusion.

In many respects, Ivan Illich is echoing here the arguments of earlier writers like Basil Yeaxlee who recognized the power of association and the importance of local groups and networks in opening up and sustaining learning. However, he takes this a stage further by explicitly advocating new forms of formal educational institutions. He also recognizes that the character of other institutions and arrangements need to be changed if the ‘radical monopoly’ of schooling is to be overturned.

Learning webs – new formal educational institutions. In Deschooling Society Ivan Illich argued that a good education system should have three purposes: to provide all that want to learn with access to resources at any time in their lives; make it possible for all who want to share knowledge etc. to find those who want to learn it from them; and to create opportunities for those who want to present an issue to the public to make their arguments known (1973a: 78). He suggests that four (possibly even three, he says) distinct channels or learning exchanges could facilitate this. These he calls educational or learning webs.

Exhibit 1: Ivan Illich on learning webs

Educational resources are usually labelled according to educators curricular goals. I propose to do the contrary, to label four different approaches which enable the student to gain access to any educational resource which may help him to define and achieve his own goals:

1. Reference services to educational objects – which facilitate access to things or processes used for formal learning. Some of these things can be reserved for this purpose, stored in libraries, rental agencies, laboratories and showrooms like museums and theatres; others can be in daily use in factories, airports or on farms, but made available to students as apprentices or on off-hours.

2. Skill exchanges – which permit persons to list their skills, the conditions under which they are willing to serve as models for others who want to learn these skills, and the addresses at which they can be reached.

3. Peer-matching – a communications network which permits persons to describe the learning activity in which they wish to engage, in the hope of finding a partner for the inquiry.

4. Reference services to educators-at-large – who can be listed in a directory giving the addresses and self-descriptions of professionals, paraprofessionals and freelances, along with conditions of access to their services. Such educators… could be chosen by polling or consulting their former clients. (Illich 1973a: 81)

Such an approach to educational provision found some enthusiastic proponents within non-formal education (see, for example, the work of Paul Fordham et. al.1979). More recently, such themes have appeared in a somewhat sanitized form in some policy pronouncements around lifelong learning and the so-called learning society. Writers like Leadbeater (2000: 112) rediscovered Ivan Illich and argued for a partially deschooled society: ‘More learning should be done at home, in offices and kitchens, in the contexts where knowledge is deployed to solve problems and to add value to people’s lives’. However, there can be a cost in this. The reference to ‘adding value’ hints at this. As Ivan Illich himself argued, ‘educators freed from the restraint of schools could be much more effective and deadly conditioners’ (Illich 1975: 74). Without a full realization of the political and ethical dimensions of conviviality, what can happen is not so much de-schooling but re-schooling. The activities of daily life become more deeply penetrated by commodification and the economic and social arrangements it entails. Learning becomes branded (Klein 2001: 87-105) and our social and political processes dominated by the requirements of corporations (Monboit 2001).

Informal education – changing the character of other institutions and formations. Ivan Illich argues for changes to all institutions so that they may be more convivial for learning.

A radical alternative to a schooled society requires not only new formal mechanisms for the formal acquisition of skills and their educational use. A deschooled society implies a new approach to incidental or informal education…. [W]e must find more ways to learn and teach: the educational qualities of all institutions must increase again. (Illich 1973a: 29-30)

Unfortunately, Ivan Illich does not explore this in any depth – and it has been up to those seeking to encourage more dialogical forms of everyday living to develop an appreciation of what this might mean in practice for educators and policymakers. Ivan Illich’s critique of development and his ‘call for the creation of a radically new relationship between human beings and their environment’ has not played a significant part in the mainstream of policy and practice (Finger and Asún 2001: 14). In recent years one of the strongest arguments for the need to examine the learning potential of institutions has come from those like Peter Senge who have sought to alter the character of business organizations (creating so-called ‘learning organizations‘). While some of these writers have had a concern with dialogue and organizational forms that are more just, many have not had the sorts of interests and commitments that Ivan Illich described as ‘convivial’. In some respects the current interest in social capital (most significantly expressed in the work of Robert Putnam 2000) is more hopeful. The importance of convivial institutions is recognized in the sustaining of community – but social capital, because it is also linked to economic advancement, can be easily co-opted in the service of non-convivial activities (as the involvement of the World Bank in promoting the notion may suggest).


Ivan Illich’s concern for conviviality – on the ordering of education, work, and society as a whole in line with human needs, and his call for the ‘deprofessionalization’ of social relations has provided an important set of ideas upon which educators concerned with mutuality and sociality can draw. His critique of the school and call for the deschooling of society hit a chord with many workers and alternative educators. Further, Ivan Illich’s argument for the development of educational webs or networks connected with an interest in ‘non-formal’ approaches and with experiments in ‘free’ schooling. Last, his interest in professionalization and the extent to which medical interventions, for example, actually create illness has added to the critique of professions and a concern to interrogate practice by informal educators – especially those in more ‘community-oriented’ work. As Gajardo (1994: 717) has commented, ‘if… we separate Illich’s thought from its emotional context, it is interesting to realize how thought-provoking some of his suggestions and proposals are’.

Erich Fromm, in his introduction to Celebration of Awareness (Illich 1973: 11) describes Ivan Illich as follows:

The author is a man of rare courage, great aliveness, extraordinary erudition and brilliance, and fertile imaginativeness, whose whole thinking is based on his concern for man’s unfolding – physically, spiritually and intellectually. The importance of his thoughts… lies in the fact that they have a liberating effect on the mind by showing new possibilities; they make the reader more alive because they open the door that leads out of the prison of routinized, sterile, preconceived notions.

Ivan Illich’s critique of the process of institutionalization in education and his setting of this in the context of the desirability of more convivial relationships retains considerable power. As Finger and Asún (2001: 14-15) have argued, the ‘forgotten Illich’ offers considerable potential for those wanting to build educational forms that are more fully human, and communities that allow people to flourish. For Illich, and for Finger and Asún (2001: 177), ‘De-institutionalization constitutes the challenge for learning our way out’ of the current malaise.

Further reading and references

Elias, J. L. (1976) Conscientization and Deschooling. Freire’s and Illich’s proposals for reshaping society, Philadelphia: Westminster Press. 178 pages. Useful review of Freire and Illich with a focus on what Elias sees as their central concepts – conscientization and deschooling.

Finger, M. And Asún, J. M. (2001) Adult Education at the Crossroads. Learning our way out, London: Zed Books. 207 pages. Helpful review of the current state of adult education thinking and policy. Useful (but flawed) introductions to key thinkers. The writers take the contribution of Ivan Illich as their starting point – and make some important points as a result.

Illich, Ivan (1973a) Deschooling Society, Harmondsworth: Penguin. 116 pages. (First published by Harper and Row 1971; now republished by Marion Boyars). Argues for the disestablishment of schooling. Chapters explore the phenomenology of schooling; the ritualization of progress; institutional spectrums; irrational consistencies; learning webs; and the rebirth of epimethean man.

Illich, Ivan (1973b) Celebration of Awareness. A call for institutional revolution, Harmondsworth Penguin. 156 pages. (First published by Harper and Row 1971; now republished by Marion Boyars). Fascinating collection of essays exploring violence; the eloquence of silence; the seamy side of charity; the powerless church; the futility of schooling; sexual power and political potency; a constitution for cultural revolution.

Illich, Ivan (1975a) Tools for Conviviality, London: Fontana. 125 pages. (First published 1973 by Harper and Row, now published by Marion Boyars). Argues for the building of societies in which modern technologies serve politically interrelated individuals rather managers. Such societies are ‘convivial’, they entail the use of responsibly limited tools. Available online: http://clevercycles.com/tools_for_conviviality/

Illich, Ivan (1976) After Deschooling, What?, London: Writers and Readers Publishing Co-operative. 55 pages. Includes a substantial opening essay ‘Deschooling revisited’ by Ian Lister.

Reimer, E. (1971) School is Dead. An essay on alternatives in education, Harmondsworth: Penguin. 176 pages. Highly readable analysis and positing of alternatives.


Duden, B. (1991) The Woman Beneath the Skin: A Doctor’s Patients in Eighteenth-Century Germany, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Fordham, P., Poulton, G. and Randle, L. (1979) Learning Networks in Adult Education. Non-formal education on a housing estate, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Fromm. E. (1979) To Have or To Be, London: Abacus.

Gabbard, D. A. (1993) Silencing Ivan Illich : A Foucauldian Analysis of Intellectual Exclusion, New York: Austin & Winfield.

Gajardo, M (1994) ‘Ivan Illich’ in Z. Morsy (ed.) Key Thinkers in Education Volume 2, Paris: UNESCO Publishing.

Hern, M. (ed.) (1996) Deschooling Our Lives, Gabriola Island BC.: New Society Publishers.

Hoinacki, L. (1996) El Camino: Walking to Santiago de Compostela, University Park, PA: Penn State University Press.

Illich, Ivan (1974) Energy and Equity, London: Marion Boyars.

Illich, Ivan (1975b) Medical Nemesis: The expropriation of health, London: Marian Boyars. 184 pages.

Illich, Ivan and Verne, E. (1976) Imprisoned in the global classroom, London: Writers and Readers Publishing Co-operative.

Illich, Ivan et al (1977a) Disabling Professions, London: Marion Boyars. 127 pages.

Illich, Ivan (1977b) The Right to Useful Unemployment and its Professional Enemies, London: Marian Boyars.

Illich, Ivan (1978) Toward a History of Needs, New York: Random House. 143 pages

Illich, Ivan (1981) Shadow Work, London: Marion Boyars. 152 pages

Illich, Ivan (1982) Gender, London: Marion Boyars. 192 pages.

Illich, Ivan (1986) H20 and the Waters of Forgetfulness, London: Marion Boyars. 92 pages.

Illich, Ivan and Sanders, B. (1988) ABC: The alphabetization of the popular mind, London: Marion Boyars. 187 + xi pages.

Illich, Ivan (1992) In the Mirror of the Past. Lectures and addresses 1978-1990, London: Marion Boyars. 231 pages.

Illich, Ivan (1993) In the Vineyard of the Text : A Commentary to Hugh’s Didascalicon, University of Chicago Press. 154 pages.

Klein, N. (2001) No Logo, London: Flamingo.

Leadbeater, C. (2000) Living on Thin Air. The new economy, London: Penguin.

Monbiot, G. (2001) Captive State. The corporate takeover of Britain, London: Pan.

Putnam, R. D. (2000) Bowling Alone. The collapse and revival of American community, New York: Simon and Schuster.

Sachs, W.(1992) The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, London: Zed Books.

Schwartz, D. (1997) Who Cares? Rediscovering Community, Boulder, CO: Westview.

Smith, L. G. and Smith, J. K. (1994) Lives in Education, New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Todd, A. and La Cecla, F. (2002) ‘Ivan Illich – an obituary’, The Guardian December 9, 2002, page 22.


Ivan Illich: Very useful page with links into key obituaries and to his writings. Includes e-texts of Deschooling Society and Tools for Conviviality.

Thinking after Illich: some essays of Ivan Illich and those of some of his friends and collaborators.

Ivan Illich: writings on the web: Useful listing of links from PreserveNet.

Scary School Nightmare – great short video exploring Illich’s ideas around schooling from pinkyshow.org.

[Our thanks to readers for their link suggestions]

Acknowledgements: The picture of Ivan Illich is reproduced under the terms of a GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 from Wikipedia Commons. The picture ‘obsolescence is by Tony Hall and is reproduced here under an  Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) Creative Commons licence. It was sourced from Flickr:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/anotherphotograph/2807945495/

Bibliographical reference: Smith, M. K. (1997-2011) ‘Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviviality and the possibilities for informal education and lifelong learning’, The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education. [https://infed.org/mobi/ivan-illich-deschooling-conviviality-and-lifelong-learning/].

© Mark K. Smith 1997-2011