The Art and Science of How People Learn - Revised Edition
Edited By Greg S. Goodman
43. Doing Restorative Practices Justice: Questioning the Psychology of Affect Theory
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CHAPTER FORTY - THREE
Doing Restorative Practices Justice
Questioning the Psychology of Affect Theory
We need to insist that perpetrators of crime are moral subjects striving reflexively to give meaning to their actions before, during and after the crime. This requires theories that operate with a broader conception of practical and discursive consciousness and moral agency—theories that do justice to the feelings of the offender, the normative meanings that law-breakers attribute to their own behaviour and the social and cultural contexts within which such meanings are activated (De Haan & Loader, 2002, pp. 245–6).
Increased utilisation of restorative justice practices in Western contemporary societies has attracted academic attention and in particular disciplinary interest has focused on how to explain such processes from psychological perspectives. To date these have involved both psychosocial and biological explanations with the most common alignment engaging Affect Theory (Nathanson, 1992; Tomkins, 1963). The difficulties I experience with this particular explanation echo William James’ warning: ‘The only images intrinsically important are the halting-places, the substantive conclusions, provisional or final, of the thought’ (1892/2000, p. 186; emphasis in original). My belief is that Affect Theory is a theoretical system established on a philosophy incongruent with the reported aims and purposes of the restorative practices themselves and such dissonance requires direct and immediate critical attention. In this chapter I will address this concern in four steps. First,...
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