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Acts of assistance: navigating the interstices of the British state with the help of non-profit legal advisers

Forbess, Alice and James, Deborah (2014) Acts of assistance: navigating the interstices of the British state with the help of non-profit legal advisers. Social Analysis, 58 (3). pp. 73-89. ISSN 0155-977X

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Identification Number: 10.3167/sa.2014.580306


This paper explores everyday interactions with the British welfare state at a moment when it is attempting to shift and transform its funding regimes. Based on a study situated in the offices of two London legal services providers, it draws attention to the role of a set of actors poised between local state officers and citizens: the advisers who carry out the work of translation, helping people to actualize their rights and, at the same time, forcing disparate state agencies to “speak to one another.” Advice and governmental services providers are increasingly part of the same system, helping to correct each other’s faults. At the same time, legal advisers’ work runs counter to the state’s aims when formal legal process is used to challenge unfair legislation. The picture is neither one of a separation between state and civil society, nor is it one in which a monolithic state is ineluctably eroding the independence of the third sector. Instead, ever more complex, blurred and idiosyncratic tangles of state, business and third sector are emerging in the field of public services.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Berghahn Journals
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
K Law > KD England and Wales
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2014 10:12
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:12
Funders: LSE's Research Seed Fund, STICERD Fund, LSE

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