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Restorative Justice and ‘‘Empowerment’’: Producing and Governing Active Subjects through ‘‘Empowering’’ Practices.

Richards, Kelly
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) Critical Criminology 19: 91-105.

During the last quarter-century, restorative justice has emerged as a widely utilised response to crime in Western nations. This article, which stems from a Foucauldian genealogy of restorative justice, argues that its embeddedness within the discourse of ‘‘empowerment’’ renders restorative justice a politically acceptable response to crime.‘‘Empowerment’’, it is argued, is one of many conditions of emergence of restorative justice. The discourse of ‘‘empowerment’’ underpins restorative justice in tangible ways, and has informed legislation and policy in Western jurisdictions. This article seeks to problematise the taken-for-granted nature of this discourse. It argues that the discourse of ‘‘empowerment’’ produces restorative justice subjects who are increasingly governed and governable. As ‘‘empowering’’ restorative practices are targeted towards ‘‘disempowered’’ individuals and communities, concerns are raised about the potential of restorative justice to disproportionately impact upon socially marginalised populations and to increase social exclusion.(Excerpt).


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