Meredith Rossner

Administrative support: Dianne Delvaille
Room: New Academic Building 6.33
Tel. 020-7955-6386 

Meredith Rossner joined the LSE in 2013 as an assistant professor of criminology. Before joining the LSE, she was a research fellow at the University of Western Sydney. She holds a PhD in Criminology and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA and BA from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include emotions and interactions in criminal justice, criminology theory, restorative justice, and juries.

Research Interests

Dr. Rossner's research interests focus on the intersection of social interaction and judicial processes. This has led to a number of research projects on the emotional and ritual elements of the justice process, with a particular focus on the role of lay people. She has conducted research on the emotional dynamics of restorative justice conferences, the dynamics and democratic potential of jury deliberation, and how design and technology impact justice proceedings.


Just Emotions: Rituals of Restorative Justice (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Just Emotions Rituals of Restorative JusticeEven as restorative justice has captured the attention of justice practitioners, academics and communities worldwide and most research suggests that it has the potential to repair the harm of a criminal offence and reduce offending, there is also evidence that it can have no effect or even make things worse. Just Emotions: Rituals of Restorative Justice attempts to address these conflicting findings by analyzing how conferences work as a unique form of justice ritual.

With a pioneering new approach to the micro-level study of the processes and emotions involved in successful conferences, this book offers clues on how to improve the practice and increase successful outcomes. Using an eclectic methodological approach, the author presents a model that adapts Goffman's and Collins' ideas about the interaction ritual chain by focusing on participants' emotions, emotional turning points, and the emergence of rhythm and solidarity between participants. The approach involves a contrasting systematic empirical program, including a combination of qualitative interviews, detailed observations of discourse, face and demeanour, and quantitative analysis of systematically observed conferences, in order to improve the capacity of facilitators and practitioners to produce successful outcomes.

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'Students vs. Jurors: Responding to Enhanced Video Technology'  Laws 2014, 3(3), 618-635

This study investigated the influence of visual media technologies used in remote witness testimony, examining whether it is suitable to use students as mock jurors when measuring the impact of new technologies. A 2 × 2 mixed factorial design explored how student status impacted ratings of the quality of the technology and remote witness facilities. A sample of 79 students and non-empanelled jurors from the Victorian Metropolitan County Court viewed direct questioning of four lay witnesses who testified from a remote location via standard or enhanced video technology. Students differed significantly from jurors in their attitudes towards media and technology. In responding to technology enhancements, students were similar in rating changes in the quality of the technology, but differed significantly in how they rated changes to the design of remote witness facilities. Students were thus a suitable sample to measure the effect of technological change in court on perceptions of technology, but not on perceptions of design. We conclude by stressing such technology enhancements can improve the quality of experience for all jurors.

'Emotions in Ritual Theories' Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions: Volume II, Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research 2014, pp 199-220

Rossner, M, Bruce, J. and Meher, M. (2013). Understanding the Process of Restorative Justice: Research on Forum Sentencing. New South Wales Department Attorney General and Justice and University of Western Sydney

'Restorative Justice, Emotions, and Adults' in Bolitho, J., Bruce, J., and Mason, G. (eds) Restorative Justice and Adult Offending. Sydney: University of Sydney Institute of Criminology Monograph Series (2012)

Rossner, M. and Tait, D. ‘Contested Emotions: Adversarial Rituals in Non adversarial Justice Procedures.’ Monash University Law Review (2011) 37(1) pp.241-258

‘Emotions and Interaction Ritual: A Micro-Analysis of Restorative Justice.’ British Journal of Criminology (2011) 51 pp.95-119

Restorative justice has long been touted as an effective and popular alternative to mainstream justice. While most research on the subject measures outcomes and satisfaction after the event, this study uses a video recording of a restorative justice conference to analyse at the micro level the emotional and interactional dynamics at work in transforming an initial situation of anger and anxiety into one marked by displays of solidarity between victim and offender. It develops Collins’ theory of interaction ritual chains to code the gradual emergence of a successful interaction by analysis of facial expressions, verbal cues, gestures and interactional dynamics.

‘Reintegrative Ritual: Restorative Justice and Micro-Sociology’ in Strang, H., Karstedt, S., and Loader, I. (eds), Emotions, Crime, and Justice. Onati International Series on Law and Society (Oxford, UK: Hart Publications, 2011)

Delahunty, J., Rossner, M. & Tait D.  ‘Simulation and dissimulation in jury research: Credibility in a live mock trial,’ in Bartels, L. and Richards, K. (eds), Qualitative Criminology: Stories from the Field (Sydney: Federation Press, 2010)

'Healing Victims and Offenders and Reducing Crime: A Critical Assessment of Restorative Justice Practice and Theory' Sociology Compass (2008) 2 (6) pp.1734-1749

The current article explores the growing restorative justice movement. It examines promising research indicating that face-to-face dialogue with crime victims and offenders may work to restore and heal participants, and reduce recidivism. In addition, the article assesses the current state of restorative justice theory, suggesting new avenues for future theory and research. I show how current thinking about restorative justice can benefit from a micro-sociological reframing, focusing on the production of collective emotion and micro-dynamics of interaction.

Sherman, L., Strang, H., Woods, D., Rossner, M., Angel, C., Barnes, G., Bennett, S., and Inkpen, N., 'Effects of Face to Face Restorative Justice on Victims of Crime in Four Randomized, Controlled Trials' Journal of Experimental Criminology (2005) 1 pp.367-395

The growing use of restorative justice provides a major opportunity for experimental criminology and evidence-based policy. Face-to-face meetings led by police officers between crime victims and their offenders are predicted to reduce the harm to victims caused by the crime. This prediction is derived not only from the social movement for restorative justice, but also from the microsociology of interaction rituals (Collins, 2004). Four randomized, controlled trials of this hypothesis in London and Canberra, with point estimates disaggregated by gender, tested the prediction with measures of both successful interaction ritual (apologies received and their perceived sincerity) and the hypothesized benefits of the ritual (on forgiveness of, and reduced desire for violent revenge against, offenders, and victim self-blame for the crime). The meta-analyses of the eight point estimates suggest success (as victims define it) of restorative justice as an interaction ritual, and as a policy for reducing harm to victims.