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Connecting the Disconnected: Experiential expertise and faring well through technology and advice in Britain, 1950-2000

Bradley, Kate (2024) Connecting the Disconnected: Experiential expertise and faring well through technology and advice in Britain, 1950-2000. In: Beaumont, Caitríona and Colpus, Eve and Davidson, Ruth, eds. Histories of Welfare: experiential expertise, action and activism in modern Britain. Palgrave Studies in the History of Experience Series . Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. (In press) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:99084)

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Abstract

This chapter critically examines the ways in which telephones were used by activist groups in the 1960s and 1970s to connect people with welfare services. 24-hour telephone lines that could be called to obtain legal support and information were pioneered by groups that were part of the ‘counterculture’ in late 1960s London. Inspired in part by civil rights and community activism in the US in the 1960s, the telephone lines run by Release, the Student Advisory Centre, BIT, and ADVISE: Immigrant Advice Centre offered immediate help to young and minority ethnic people who found themselves in trouble with the police or landlords, or otherwise struggling to access the services they needed. These groups served as a buffer between the state and the individual, seeking to make supposedly universal state services accessible to those who had good reason to be suspicious of the state.

This chapter explores the theme of the expertise of experience by thinking about the relationship between formal welfare services and the material experience of that. The telephone lines here offered a different form of access to professional expertise, which included taking the service to where the person was in time and space. That could mean the use of a phone call under the Judges’ Rules to obtain a solicitor when under arrest in a police station. It could mean using a telephone box on the street or other public space for advice on personal matters, or negotiating access to a shared phone. The chapter also explores the embodied/disembodied experience of accessing advice over the telephone: discretion and the presentation of self in the context of making a phone call. The chapter will also engage with the ways in which, in the period of study, those who were giving the legal or other advice increasingly were members of the social group that was experiencing the problems/oppression. This reflected the [gradual] diversification of the legal profession in the post-war period, as well as social work/NGO employment, and also the growth of community group activism, with its emphasis on a reimagined ‘self-help’.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Telephones; faring well; welfare; civil rights; counterculture; services
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV40 Charities
D History General and Old World
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HS Societies: secret, benevolent, etc.
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV5800 Drug habits and abuse
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Kate Bradley
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2022 09:50 UTC
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 10:06 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/99084 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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