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Tools for community: Ivan Illich's legacy

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Although it is 40 years since Ivan Illich published Tools for Conviviality, the word 'convivial' retains an appeal conjuring up liveliness, sociability and, in this age of economic uncertainty, optimism. But in an era of co-creation and co-production the word 'tools' has attracted greater attention, heralding Illich is due for regeneration. Superficially, the rise of technologies like Facebook and smartphones signal Illich's convivial tools have arrived, giving creativity to a mass audience. This article questions whether this is so by revisiting Illich's critique of capitalism and its institutions, particularly education, and examining claims that we have indeed built tools of conviviality. It seeks to reframe convivial tools and the democratization of education by looking at developments beyond digital technology to include design strategy linked to community challenges. The opportunity is taken to re-contextualize Illich's ideas on de-schooling by providing models and a case study exemplar whilst raising issues for design education.
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Keywords: community; craft; design; tools

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Robert Gordon University

Publication date: May 24, 2012

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.

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