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  • Thursday, October 12, 2006


    Ivan Illich and Shadow Work

    I recently picked up a slim volume by Ivan Illich called Shadow Work. I was interested in following up on Illich because his book Deschooling Society made a deep impression on me when I read it. I found him to be an incisive and provocative thinker.

    One theme I found was an analysis of non-economic work, work not considered as part of the economic overview in society. I think modern economics consists almost entirely of quantifiable factors: wages, employment, capital movement, large transactions, etc. These are all things which are relatively easy to track and plug into equations and spreadsheets. Illich concerns himself with work less easily tracked: work in the home, so-called "women's work," unpaid and non-quantifiable work which nonetheless provides the foundation of society and enables the existence of extra-familial and extra-community work.

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