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Date of Award

4-1975

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

Supervisor

R. Brymer

Language

English

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to outline the West End community's legal problems, legal needs, legal awareness and their interaction with the legal aid clinic located in the West End of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Various theories are emphasized to furnish a fruitful comprehension of the issues under investigation. Initially, David Caplovitz's perception of the poor's circumstance is discussed to demonstrate that the less fortunate do, indeed, have legal difficulties. Subsequently, Gerald Suttles' concept of the 'provincial effect' and Herbert Gans' idea of person-oriented and object-oriented individuals are reviewed to supply a explanation of why the poor may be susceptible to exploitation. Lewis Coser's theory of conflict follows to establish that conflict does exist in our society between the poor and 'outsiders'. It is asserted that safety-valve institutions such as legal aid clinics can perhaps act as functional mediators between the disadvantaged and 'outsiders'. That is, they can channel the expression of hostile attitudes.

In light of this, sixty heads of households or their spouses were interviewed. An interview schedule was utilized consisting mainly of fixed-choice questions but, some open-ended questions were included. For the most part, the queries that were used represented indicators of variables such as recognition of legal problem (RECOLPR), not resigned to one's situation (NRETSN), awareness of legal clinic (AWOLCLC), USB of clinic (USOCLC), respect for the law (RESFRLW), awareness of legal rights (AWOLRTS), proximity to clinic, and time in area. Queries pertaining to background information such as age, sex and ethnicity were also enclosed in the interview schedule.

From an analysis of the data, it is concluded that the findings did not significantly uphold the theoretical base. However, proximity to clinic did support the supposition concerning the "isolation effect". The people most likely to use the clinic are those who live close to it. In addition, the data demonstrated that the West-End legal aid clinic is assisting the disadvantaged.

Finally, recommendations regarding future research of this nature and practical methods of providing further assistance to the poor are suggested.

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