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Abstracts from Volume 31, Number 1
(March, 2004)

Restorative Justice, Responsive Regulation, and Democratic Governance
Paul Adams Guest Editor
Restorative justice has been a central tradition of justice in most, perhaps all societies prior to the emergence of the modern, central state power with its bureaucratic-professional systems and its emphasis on retribution, deterrence, and, sometimes, rehabilitation. Its revival as a new social movement in modern states offers a new paradigm for addressing the key questions in social work and social welfare of the relation of formal to informal systems of care and control, and of empowerment to coercion. Restorative justice may be defined in terms of process— one whereby all stakeholders come together to resolve how to deal with the aftermath of an offense and its implications for the future—or in terms of its core values—healing rather than hurting, moral learning, community participation and caring, respectful dialogue, forgiveness, responsibility, apology, and setting things right or making amends.

The articles in this issue take as their starting point the recent path-breaking book by renowned Australian scholar John Braithwaite (2002), Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation. Braithwaite is Professor of Law at Australian National University in Canberra and heads the Regulatory Institutions Network there. He is a business regulatory scholar, sociologist, criminologist, activist, and leading researcher on both restorative justice and responsive regulation, as well as a scholar of democratic theory. In Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation, Braithwaite synthesizes recent research and conceptual analysis of restorative justice and integrates them with his work on responsive regulation of business. Braithwaite not only demonstrates the superior effectiveness of restoring victims, offenders, and communities compared with punitive practices of modern judicial systems; he also shows how the experience of responsive regulation of business—utilizing a regulatory pyramid to ensure compliance— and restorative justice practices can enrich each other. In the form of family group conferencing, restorative practices have already had an important impact on child welfare and youth justice, both in the United States and in many other countries. The integration of restorative justice and responsive regulation presented by Braithwaite offers an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of this new paradigm and, indeed, achieve greater clarity about the very nature of social work and social welfare.

These articles consider the relation of restorative justice to responsive regulation—or more generally, to democratic governance —by examining areas where restorative justice and family group or community conferencing have had most influence in social welfare—child protection, domestic violence, and youth justice. Restorative and regulatory justice has much wider application, to areas as various as school bullying, international peacemaking, nursing home or nuclear power plant regulation, and radical reform of the whole legal system, and Braithwaite has studied all of them. The aim of this issue is more modest— to focus the attention of scholars and practitioners working at the interface of sociology and social welfare on the importance for this field of Braithwaite’s synthesis of restorative justice and responsive regulation.

Each of the authors writes out of a conviction of the importance for social work of the theory and research reviewed and developed by Braithwaite, but there is also caution about the infancy of research in this field and the need to avoid grandiose claims. At the same time, a sense of the broad significance of this synthesis of restorative justice and responsive regulation for social welfare policy, for building a richly participative civil society, and for democratic governance pervades many of the contributions.

The first essay, by Burford and Adams, while not an introduction to each of the other articles, offers a context for reading both them and Braithwaite’s work as contributions to the literature of social work and social welfare. The final article is an invited response by Braithwaite to this special issue. It takes up, highlights, and clarifies many of the issue’s themes.

As guest editor, I would like to thank Gale Burford for inspiring me to take on and persevere with this project, and Susan Chandler and Kalei Kanuha for their participation in the manuscript review process. Above all, I would like to thank John Braithwaite for his international leadership, as scholar and activist, in the effort to build more just and democratic societies throughout the world, and for graciously agreeing to read and respond to the articles included here

Restorative Justice, Responsive Regulation and Social Work
Gale Burford University of Vermont Paul Adams University of Hawaii at Manoa
Two of the dichotomies or tensions at the heart of this profession are especially important for the themes of this special issue on restorative justice and responsive regulation. These are the relation between formal and informal helping and between care and control, or empowerment and coercion. In this article, we make a case for the importance of Braithwaite’s work, especially his (2002) book, Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation, for conceptualizing the nature of social work in relation to these dualities. Since Braithwaite’s writings do not have social work or social welfare scholars and professionals as their primary audience and are less familiar to much of that audience than they should be, we seek here to provide a context for reading both Braithwaite and this issue of the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare.

Working Together to Stop Domestic Violence: State-Community Partnerships and the Changing Meaning of Public and Private
Kristin A. Kelly University of Connecticut
The increasing reliance in the United States on state-community partnerships to address social problems represents both new opportunities and new dangers. This article presents examples of both possibilities through a consideration of contemporary collaborations between state and nonstate actors in the development of a public response to domestic violence. This discussion provides the basis for an elaboration of a conceptual approach to public/private relationships that replaces the traditional dichotomy with a triangular relationship, of state, family and community. By improving on our ability to think through the complex relationships between these three spheres, it is argued that this model that can assist those who are committed to pursuing the positive potential of community-state partnerships while avoiding their dangers. John Braithwaite’s theory of responsive regulation, and the regulatory pyramid that structures its operation, is discussed in terms of its ability to provide additional insights into the relationship between formal and informal responses to social problems.

Moving Beyond the Criminal Justice Paradigm: A Radical Restorative Justice Approach to Intimate Abuse
Peggy Grauwiler and Linda G. Mills New York University
This article traces the history of the development of the treatment of domestic violence as a crime in the United States and the conceptual and practical limitations of this approach in addressing this important social issue. An extensive body of research on restorative justice practice suggests that restorative approaches may contribute to reducing and preventing family violence. Drawing on restorative justice principles, an alternative or supplement to criminal justice approaches is outlined for working with all parties involved in abusive relationships.

Managing Social Conflict—The Evolution of a Practical Theory
David B. Moore Consultant, Sydney, Australia
This article describes the co-evolution of a process and a theory. Through the 1990s, the process known as “conferencing” moved beyond child welfare and youth justice, to applications in schools, neighbourhoods, and workplaces. In each of these applications, conferencing has assisted participants to acknowledge and transform interpersonal conflict, as a prelude to negotiating a plan of action. Much analysis of conferencing has been linked with social theorist John Braithwaite, whose work has influenced the development of a multidisciplinary theory of these process dynamics, and the development of guiding principles. Key links between theory and practice are described in chronological sequence.

Responsive Regulation in Child Welfare: Systemic Challenges to Mainstreaming the Family Group Conference
Paul Adams and Susan M. Chandler University of Hawaii at Manoa
The purpose of this article is to examine the challenges inherent in transforming child welfare services.We apply Braithwaite’s model of responsive regulation to the restorative practice of family group conferencing in child welfare. Shifting the role of the state away from controller of families in the child protective services system to one of regulatory partner with them is extraordinarily difficult. The paper looks at the complexities of reorienting child welfare services through the use of family group conferences on a large scale.

Family Group Conferencing in Child Welfare: Responsive and Regulatory Interfaces
Joan Pennell North Carolina State University
A regulatory approach compels the child welfare worker to make decisions according to set procedures and prevents responding flexibly to families. Differential response is a way that child welfare is departing from legal formalism. One means is convening a family group conference (FGC) to develop a plan. John Braithwaite’s regulatory pyramid assists in conceptualizing differential response. This article reports a factor analysis of data on achievement of FGC objectives to elaborate three interfaces for fostering responsive regulation. Each interface keeps the family group at the center of planning while firmly maintaining their connections with community and government programs.

Achieving Justice in Child Protection
Rob Neff School of Social Work University of Hawaii-Manoa
As formal systems for the protection of children have evolved in this country, certain barriers to achieving justice within the child protection system have emerged concomitantly. Specifically, these barriers involve ambiguous definitions of abuse and the appearance of social inequality and bias within the child protection system. One means of surmounting these barriers to justice is family group conferencing (FGC). Support for this assertion comes from the integration of the restorative justice model and procedural justice theory. When applied to the practice of FMCS in child protection, the integration of these theoretical perspectives provides a strong rationale for the use of FGC and a theoretical framework from which the outcomes and causal mechanisms of FGCs may be evaluated.

Sharing Power with the People: Family Group Conferencing as a Democratic Experiment
Lisa Merkel-Holguin American Humane Children’s Services
Can family group conferencing be leveraged to promote the democratic ideals of voice, freedom, justice, fairness, equality, and respect, and provide the citizenry with the opportunity to build a more just and civil society? This article reviews family group conferencing, and various model adaptations, from a democratic context and through the lens of responsive regulation.

Family Involvement Interventions in Child Protection: Learning from Contextual Integrated Strategies
David Stuart Crampton Case Western Reserve University Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences
The use of family group conferencing and related family involvement interventions in child protection is rapidly increasing in the United States and many other countries. There is some concern that the child welfare field will travel down the same road as it did with intensive family preservation services; that is, tremendous enthusiasm later derailed by rigidly designed evaluations that showed unimpressive effects. The work of John Braithwaite suggests an alternative path for finding justifiable excitement about these interventions. Drawing upon Braithwaite’s writings and ongoing evaluation research, this article suggests a few steps we can take towards an integrative strategy for developing effective family involvement interventions.

Families and the Republic
John Braithwaite Australian National University
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.

Book Reviews
Family Health Social Work Practice: A Macro Level Approach.
John T. Pardeck (Ed.)
Reviewed by: Marsha Blachman

Growth and Convergence in Metropolitan America.
Janet Rothenberg Pack,
Reviewed by Joseph A. Deering

Meds, Money and Manners: The Case Management of Severe Mental Illness.
Jerry Floersch
Reviewed by Rafael Herrera

Controversial Issues in Social Policy.
Howard Jacob Karger, James Midgley and C. Brene Brown (Eds.),
Reviewed by Mizanur R. Miah

Engendering International Health: The Challenge of Equity.
Gita Sen, Asha George and Piroska Ösltin (Eds.)
Reviewed by Deborah Schild Wilkinson

Addiction Treatment A Strength’s Perspective,
VanWormer, Katherine and Davis, Diane Rae,
Reviewed by Mike Gorman

Book Notes
Making Men into Fathers: Men, Masculinities, and the Social Policies of Fatherhood
Hobson, B. (Ed.)

From Children’s Services to Children’s Spaces: Public Policy, Children and Childhood.
Peter Moss and Pat Petrie

Restructuring the Welfare State: Political Institutions and Policy Change.

Bo Rothstein and Sven Steinmo (Eds.)

Rethinking Welfare: A Critical Perspective.
Ian Ferguson, Michael Lavalette and Gerry Mooney

Reaching Higher: The Power of Expectations in Schooling.
Rhona Weinstein

The Quiet Hand of God: Faithbased Activism and the Public Role of Mainline Protestantism.
Robert Wuthnow and John H. Evans.

 

 

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