Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Tools for community: Ivan Illich's legacy.

MacDonald, Stuart Wyllie


Stuart Wyllie MacDonald


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.


MACDONALD, S.W. 2012. Tools for community: Ivan Illich's legacy. International journal of education through art [online], 8(2), pages 121-133. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 24, 2012
Online Publication Date May 24, 2012
Publication Date May 24, 2012
Deposit Date Aug 11, 2014
Publicly Available Date Aug 11, 2014
Journal International Journal of Education through Art
Print ISSN 1743-5234
Electronic ISSN 2040-090X
Publisher Intellect
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 2
Pages 121-133
Keywords Tools; Craft; Design; Commumity
Public URL


Downloadable Citations