Source: (2004) Ph.D. dissertation, Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, New School University.

What it means to particular individuals to be “at homeâ€? undoubtedly varies. There is nonetheless something inviting about the notion of “being at home.â€? Being at home with oneself and in one’s community, which has to do with the social aspects of security, care, and belonging, serves as the lens through which I examine the intersubjective relations of recognition and the contingent possibilities of self-realization and restorative justice. On the foundation of ideas presented in Hegel’s early writings, and developed by Axel Honneth, Charles Taylor, Jacques Derrida, and Nancy Fraser, I argue that (i) it is important for individuals and communities to realize their potentials as fully as possible, (ii) the environment most conducive to doing so is one that generates a sense of being “at homeâ€? (bei sich) in one’s community (Sittlichkeit) by providing the social conditions for forming, developing and expressing respect and security, and promoting feelings of belonging and care, and (iii) the way to create such an environment is by implementing a kind of justice that cultivates and restores human recognition by integrating formal (universal, moral) and informal (particular, ethical) tools. Formal tools include existing laws, and the procedures for creating, maintaining and enforcing order, security and well-being. Informal tools include social networks such as families, friends, neighborhoods and other communities where exchanges of acknowledgement, appreciation, respect and care take place. Restorative justice uniquely integrates these formal and informal tools of “orderâ€? and “care.â€? It is based on and actively promotes careful human recognition. It creates the necessary conditions for human beings and their communities to be secure and well, even in the face of crises. Restorative justice is, therefore, the key to and foundation for long-lasting and preventative conflict resolution. To illustrate the practical value of the theoretical connections I propose between recognition, realization and justice, I use two contemporary examples: (i) community-based justice circles (Sentencing, Peacemaking and Conferencing circles) and (ii) South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Author’s abstract.