Ideas of legality and citizenship

With cuts to Legal Aid and welfare provision, the work of Citizens Advice Bureaux is changing rapidly. The IOLAC project takes a detailed and unique look at the work done by CAB managers and advisers, talking to managers and advisers across the country to gain an in-depth understanding of their work. This project engages with the concept of ‘Legal Consciousness’ and with different approaches to ‘citizenship’.

‘New Sites of Legal Consciousness: Ideas of Legality and Citizenship’ is a research project based at the University of Bristol in partnership with a small number of Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) across England and Wales.

Despite CAB having long acted as an essential meeting point between citizens, law and the state, there has been little previous study of how CAB workers think about and understand their work. This project will take an in-depth look at this work, exploring particularly how those working for CAB understand and employ the concept of ‘citizenship’, and how an attention to ‘everyday’ legal practices might shed light on the changing significance of law in personal and social problems.

The project takes place amid rapidly changing circumstances for CAB and other advice agencies. By offering a fresh perspective upon the work of CAB and its effect upon their clients and the wider community, the project will offer a range of audiences an important indication of how Bureaux are responding to these changes.

In sum the project will provide a range of audiences with new insights into the vital role played by CAB workers, as well as providing a timely description of how advice work is changing. The research findings will help CAB in explaining the importance of their work, whether to funding bodies or elsewhere, and in exploring new models for funding, organising and delivering advice.

Our research

Meet the project team

Key questions
Find out more about the project and key questions explored

Research approach
An introduction to the research approach and concepts of the project

Contact us

Professor Morag McDermont is principal investigator on the ‘Ideas of Legality and Citizenship’ project. Email:

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