Illich: a latent post-industrialist?.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
An analysis is made of Illich's account of the structure of advanced industrial society and of his prediction concerning the resistance it will generate. Comparisons are made between the thought of Illich and selected themes of acknowledged post-industrial theorists. I conclude that Illich and the post-industrialists are in basic agreement regarding the structure of the power elite, the alienation of the people and the function of the education system. They agree too that the central dilemma of advanced societies lies outside the political domain. They also concur regarding the nature of the resistance the power elite will generate. However Illich's account of those likely to resist does not conform to that of other analysts although it is rarely in direct conflict with it. Therefore Illich, it is argued, is not to be viewed as a lone critic of advanced industrial society but as an exponent of the post-industrial perspective of social forecasting. I argue on the basis of these similarities that Illich's social analysis stands and falls on the strengths and weaknesses of post-industrial theory. Post-industrial themes in Illich's work are extended to construct a defence of his writings against the Marxist critique. I suggest however, that the post-industrial themes render him vulnerable to criticisms that have been levelled at other post-industrial analyses of society. His analysis of the resistance movement is also questioned both from within post-industrialism and from without. Finally it is argued that Illich's own analysis helps to protect post-industrial theory from the common criticism that it misrepresents the nature of service agencies in advanced societies.