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Problems of Conceptualization: RJ and Peace-making

Mackay, Robert
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Report of the fifth conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice, Building restorative justice in Europe: cooperation between the public, policy makers, practitioners and researchers, Verona.

This presentation addressed the question: ‘What do we mean by restorative justice’, and what happens when we survey the answers. This simple question has a range of answers, many of which are, apparently, mutually contradictory. It does, however, expose real differences within the restorative justice movement. The author is not interested in trying to resolve the problems by coming up with a new definition, but is instead concerned to explore common underlying themes which, in his view, lead to a more powerful conceptualisation of what is going on in the ‘restorative justice’ movement. He argues that the most satisfactory account of what is happening is that restorativistas are, at bottom, concerned with peacemaking. The author maintains that ‘restorative justice’ is a limited
but valuable concept within the arena of legal action, but that peacemaking, underpinned by a ‘constitutive’ principle of justice, makes greater sense of the plurality and heterogeneity of ‘restorative’ practice and thinking. (excerpt)


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