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Discourses on behaviour: A role for restorative justice?

Harold, Victoria L.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) International Journal on School Disaffection. 10(2):45-61.

The description and management of difficult behaviour in schools has
interested educational practitioners and researchers worldwide, including in the UK.
Concerns have been raised about the use and implications of more dominant discourses,
namely those of behaviourism and zero tolerance, for understanding student behaviour.
This article presents research, conducted in a secondary school in Northern England,
exploring restorative justice as an alternative. Transcripts from a series of school staff
focus groups and the school behaviour policy were analysed, using critical discourse
analysis, in order to address two questions: (1) what are the dominant discourses on
behaviour amongst school staff within the school? and (2) what spaces are available for
the construction of alternative discourses regarding behaviour and relational action?
The analysis confirms the predominance of behaviourist and zero-tolerance discourses
and a reliance on individualistic explanations regarding difficult behaviour. However,
the presence of a range of discursive resources within the staff focus groups suggests the
viable use of an alternative discourse. (authors’ abstract)


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