Talking as restorative justice : a conversation analysis of victim-offender meetings

Langford, R 2021, Talking as restorative justice : a conversation analysis of victim-offender meetings , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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The purpose of this research was to examine the restorative justice meeting as a form of institutional talk, identifying significant asymmetries in the talk, and acknowledging how this contributed to achieving restoration. This study used audio-recordings of five restorative justice meetings organised as victim-offender mediation sessions and including adult offenders. The recordings were transcribed and examined using the method of conversation analysis. Findings revealed that restorative justice meetings were framed by institutional talk. They were organised using specialised turn-taking procedures and pre-allocated roles. Facilitators asked questions and victims and offenders answered them. The answers given were assessed by facilitators for adequacy and accounts were persuasively re-narrated when they did not align with the objectives of the meeting. Asymmetry was demonstrated when the talk of offenders was heavily scrutinised and challenged by facilitators. The talk of victims was supported, they were asked open questions and given the opportunity to provide extended answers, allowing them to express themselves. A question was asked in the reparation phase that offenders interpreted as an invitation to apologise. Through the question-answer framework, some apologies were directed at victims and included a demonstration of remorse and received a response. Other apologies were directed at facilitators with no demonstration of remorse, resulting in no response from victims. These apologies were less effective because no response meant the apologies could not be accepted. These findings were further confirmed by the counterexample of Meeting Three where, because a victim did not attend, the meeting was less formally organised and resulted in restoration not being achieved. Overall, institutional talk, asymmetrical relationships between facilitators, victims and offenders and the attendance of the victim contributed to the achievement of the main objective of restorative justice for this scheme which was offender restoration.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Birkbeck, CH (Supervisor) and Smith, GWH (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Depositing User: Rachel Langford
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2021 13:34
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2021 02:30

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