Thumbnail Image

Constructing a successful Restorative Justice Conference: A tentative analysis

This thesis is an examination of the language used in Restorative Justice Conferences in schools. After examining the origins and the concept of restorative justice the study utilises the conceptual tools which are located in a social constructionist approach to language use and meaning-making. In so doing the study draws on discourse theory, positioning theory, narrative theory, and, more latterly, relational theory. Restorative Justice (RJ) is a modern approach to social conflict, offering an alternative process to the traditional punitive system widely used in schools. Although the process is increasingly used around the world, and has many fervent practitioners, there is a considerable gap in our understanding of just how the process achieves the results that its adherents claim for it. The site of this study is a secondary school in New Zealand, and two RJ conferences were audio recorded along with separate recordings later from each participant. The theory of social constructionism suggests that the meaning of things and any sense of personal identity is created through social interaction and the creation of particular kinds of relationship. In this framework, meaning is never established once and for all, but is constantly negotiated and created through social interaction. Accordingly, close attention has been paid to the dialogue and the nature of the linguistic exchanges. In short, it has focussed on the way relationships and identities are constructed through the deliberate and purposeful use of language, thus setting up the possibility of people resolving the harm, and going on in peace. It is suggested that a key element is in the setting up of relationships of equal concern, dignity and respect. The research both vindicates the claims that are made for the efficacy of the process in solving social conflict, and more importantly, offers an enhanced understanding of exactly what is going on in those conferences that makes that peaceful resolution possible. Although it is limited to only two such conferences, it is hoped that it will offer a glimpse of what it is possible to learn about the effects of different ways of speaking using these constructionist conceptual tools.
Type of thesis
Holm, R. (2014). Constructing a successful Restorative Justice Conference: A tentative analysis (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8705
University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.