«People need not only to obtain things, they need above all the freedom to make things among which they can live, to give shape to them according to their own tastes, and to put them to use in caring for and about others. Prisoners in rich countries often have access to more things and services than members of their families, but they have no say in how things are to be made and cannot decide what to do with them. Their punishment consists in being deprived of what I shall call "conviviality." They are degraded to the status of mere consumers.
I choose the term "conviviality" to designate the opposite of industrial productivity. I intend it to mean autonomous and creative intercourse among persons, and the intercourse of persons with their environment; and this in contrast with the conditioned response of persons to the demands made upon them by others. and by a man-made environment. 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.
Present institutional purposes, which hallow industrial productivity at the expense of convivial eeffectiveness, are a major factor in the amorphousness and meaninglessness that plague contempo- rary society. The increasing demand for products has come to define society's: process. I will suggest how this present trend can be reversed and how modern science and technology can be used to endow human activity with unprecedented effectiveness, This reversal would permit the evolution of a life style and of a politicalsystem which give priority to the protection, the maximum use, and the enjoyment of the one resource that is almost equally distributed among all people: personal energy under personal control. I will argue that we can no longer lite and work effectively without public controls over tools and institutions that curtail or negate any persons right to the creative use of his or her energy. For this purpose we need procedures to ensure that con.trols over the tools of society are established and governed by political process rather than by decisions by experts. » 1
Tools are intrinsic to social relationships. An individual relates himself in action to his society through the use of tools that he actively masters, or by which he is passively acted upon. To the degree that he masters his tools, he can invest the world with his meaning; to the degree that he is mastered by his tools, the shape of the tool determines his own self-image. Convivial tools are those which give each person who uses them the greatest opportunity to enrich the environment with the fruits of his or her vision. Industrial tools deny this possibility to those who use. them and they allow their designers to determine the meaning and expectations of others. Most tools today cannot be used in a convivial fashion.
Tools foster conviviality to the extent to which they can be easily used, by anybody, as often or as seldom as desired, for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user. The use of such tools by one person does not restraint another from using them equally. They do not require previous certification of the user. Their existence does not impose any obligation to use them. They allow the user to express his meaning in action. »2
Ivan Illich, Oeuvres complètes, Vol 1, Fayard, Paris 2003, pp.470 et 484.