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Just Emotions: rituals of restorative justice

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Meredith Rossner
Oxford University Press (October 2013)

Even 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 offense 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 analysing 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.

Offering an exploration of how rituals unfold dynamically in space and time, alongside analysis of both failed and successful rituals, Just Emotions provides a statistical model of the ritual elements of restorative justice and how these rituals may impact reoffending.

  • Dr Meredith Rossner is a lecturer in criminology in the Department of Law at LSE.

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"A profound probe into the ritual dynamics of restorative justice, Just Emotions is a book that reformulates restorative justice theory in an innovative way based on a micro sociology of the emotions. It is rich in implications for how restorative justice practitioners can become more effective. A deft empirical analysis and a theoretical shift that will have an enduring impact on criminology."
John Braithwaite, Australian National University

"I have seen the future of criminology and it is Just Emotions. Rossner's fascinating book is a first step to a new approach to criminal justice research that is process-based, alert to emotional and symbolic dynamics, micro-level, and above all appreciative of the role of ritual in the justice process. More of this please!"
Shadd Maruna, Director, Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice Queen's University Belfast


Just Emotions