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Families and the Republic

Braithwaite, John
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare. 31(1): 199-215.

Restorative and responsive justice can be a strategy of social work practice that builds democracy bottom-up by seeing families as building blocks of democracy and fonts of democratic sentiment. At the same time, because families are sites of the worst kinds of tyranny and the worst kinds of neglect, a rule of law is needed that imposes public human rights obligations on families. The republican ideal is that this rule of law that constrains people in families should come from the people. Restorative and responsive justice has a strategy for the justice of the people to bubble up into the justice of the law and for the justice of the law to filter down into the justice of the people. The role of the social worker is to be a bridge across which both those democratic impulses are enabled to flow. The empowering side of the social work role fits the first side of the duality where the will of families bubble up; the coercive side of the social work role fits the second where the justice of the law filters down. Author’s abstract.


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