1st Edition

Informal Reckonings Conflict Resolution in Mediation, Restorative Justice, and Reparations

By Andrew Woolford, R.S. Ratner Copyright 2008
    158 Pages
    by Routledge-Cavendish

    160 Pages
    by Routledge-Cavendish

    The 'reparational turn' in the field of law has resulted in the increased use of so-called 'informal' approaches to conflict resolution, including primarily the three mechanisms considered in this book: mediation, restorative justice and reparations. While proponents of these mechanisms have acclaimed their communicative and democratic promise, critics have charged that mediation, restorative justice and reparations all potentially serve as means for encouraging citizens to internalize and mimic the rationalities of governance. Indeed, the critics suggest that informal justice's supposed oppositional relationship to formal justice is, at base, a mutually reinforcing one, in which each system relies on the other for its effective operation, rather than the two being locked in a struggle for dominance.

    This book contributes to the discussion of the confluence of informal and formal justice by providing a clearer picture of the justice 'field' through the notion of the 'informal/formal justice complex.'  This term, adapted from Garland and Sparks (2000), describes a cultural formation in which adversarial/punitive and conciliatory/restorative justice forms coexist in relative harmony despite their apparent contradictions. Situating this complex within the context of neoliberalism, this book identifies the points of rupture in the informal/formal justice complex to pinpoint how and where a truly alternative and 'transformative' justice (i.e. a justice that challenges and counters the hegemony of formal legal practices, opening the field of law to a broader array of actors and ideas) might be established through the tools of mediation, restorative justice and reparations.

    Part 1: Formal and Informal Justice: What is 'Formal' Justice?  The Critique of 'Formal' Justice.  The Reparational Turn: Emerging Visions of 'Informal' Justice.  The Informal/Formal Justice Complex.  Justice: The Grand Illusion?  Part 2: Resolving Conflict in a Changing World: Understanding Transformations in the Juridical Field.  Neoliberalism and Governmentality.  Communicative and Instrumental Forms of Informal Justice.  Changing Historical Contexts and Changing Justice Practices.  The Quest for Redemption (Perpetrators and Victims)  Part 3: Mediation as 'Informal Justice': What is Mediation?  Its Origins and Position in the Juridical Field.  Mediation Within the Field of Civil Conflict.  The Strengths and Weaknesses of Mediated Settlements.  Splits in Mediation Practice: The Fragmentation of the Mediation Field (e.g. Evaluative, Facilitative and Transformative Mediation).  The Prospects for Mediation in the Informal/Formal Justice Complex  Part 4: Restorative Justice as 'Informal' Justice: What is Restorative Justice?  Its Origins, Intersections With Mediation and Position in the Juridical Field.  Restoration Within the Field of Criminal Conflict.  The Strengths and Weaknesses of Restoration.  Splits in the Practice of Restoration: 'Communitarian' and 'Governmentalist' Restoration.  The Prospects for Restorative Justice in the Informal/Formal Justice Complex  Part 5: Reparations As Informal Justice: What Are Reparations?  Their Origins, Intersections with Mediation and Restorative Justice and Position Within the Juridical Field.  Reparations Within the Fields of National and International Conflict.  The Strengths and Weaknesses of Reparations.  Splits in the Field of Reparations: Reparations for Justice and Reparations for Certainty.  The Prospects for Reparations in the Informal/Formal Justice Complex  Part 6: Conclusions.  Summary of Noted Tensions and Contradictions in the Juridical Field (Pertaining to Mediation, Restorative Justice and Reparations).  Reconfiguring the Informal/Formal Complex.  Towards 'Transformative Justice'


    Andrew Woolford is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Manitoba. He is author of Between Justice and Certainty: Treaty Making in British Columbia (2005, UBC Press). Dr. Woolford has published articles on Canadian Aboriginal peoples, genocide and conflict resolution in journals such as Law & Society Review, Critical Criminology, Canadian Journal of Sociology, Journal of Human Rights, and Social Justice.

    R.S. Ratner is Professor Emeritus (Sociology) at the University of British Columbia. He co-edited State Control: Criminal Justice Politics in Canada (1987, UBC Press) and Challenges and Perils: Social Democracy in Neoliberal Times (2005, Fernwood Books). His research interests are in the fields of social movements, critical criminology, and political sociology. His current research project is a cross-cultural study of genocide reparations.

    "This perceptive, well-argued, but condensed volume written clearly and elegantly provides good summaries of the advantages and perils of informal reckoning in different settings, and convincingly argues that, as arenas of expression and mobilization of social and legal criticism, these informal 'counterpublics' can lead toward transformative justice." -- CHOICE September 2008, Vol. 46 (L. Stan, St. Francis Xavier University)