Deafness, community and culture in Britain

Leisure and cohesion, 1945-1995

Martin Atherton
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Discourses on the social and cultural aspects of deafness emphasise the vital role played by deaf clubs in nurturing and maintaining deaf communities. Despite this, there has been virtually no previous research into the social and leisure activities provided for deaf people by the deaf clubs or the specific nature of deaf communal leisure. This book, based on an extensive longitudinal study of British deaf clubs between 1945 and 1995, presents the first detailed analysis of the social lives of deaf people in the UK.

British Deaf News was the major deaf newspaper throughout the 20th century, with deaf clubs reporting their activities and those of their members in each issue, providing a vital information and dissemination service for the geographical isolated pockets of deaf people across the country. Contributors shared information that was of interest to other deaf people and thus provide contemporary historians with extensive insights into the lived deaf experience that is not available from any other written source. The book outlines the volume and variety of leisure activities deaf people engaged in and discusses the vital role this played in maintaining and sustaining the sense of shared experiences and outlooks that are represented by the term ‘deaf community’. The book sets this discussion within a wider analysis of the role of leisure and sport in wider society, to emphasise both the similarities and the unique aspects of the social lives of one of Britain’s least understood minority groups.

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‘Although the focus of Deafness, Community and Culture in Britain is on deaf communities, clubs and leisure pursuits, the book's thorough account of the diverse issues involved in community identity and the development of clubs and the impact of modern digital communication will be of interest to those engaged with social and cultural history, disability studies and the provision of community services more widely. The contextualisation of the results from quantitative analysis of the data from deaf newspapers provides an alternative perspective for examining hearing-related difficulties and interventions.'
Bonnie Millar
Disability and Society Vol 32, Issue 3

‘This work is certainly a conversation starter and is a welcome addition to the field of deaf history.
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