From reintegrative shaming to restorative institutional hybridity

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    Crime, shame and reintegration (1989) introduced reintegrative shaming theory in its first iteration, a theory of crime that sought to be integrative and interdisciplinary, normative and explanatory. The normative dimension of the theory is rooted in the republican principle of freedom as non-domination: our institutions, particularly justice institutions, should be cognisant of the goal of reducing the quantum of domination in the world. Domination in the criminal or bullying context often means predation. The principle of freedom as non-domination has been the bedrock of Braithwaite's theories of crime, regulation and society more broadly (Braithwaite & Pettit, 1990). This article looks at the evolutionary pathway reintegrative shaming theory has followed from the initial core concepts of shaming, reintegration and stigmatisation. In 2001, a major revision of the theory introduced 30 new propositions for further testing (Ahmed, Harris, Braithwaite & Braithwaite, 2001). In particular, the concepts of ethical identity, shame and pride management were brought into play. Shame acknowledgement and humble pride in this revision are associated with lower crime, shame displacement (as in blaming others) and narcissistic pride with higher crime. A decade later, a body of knowledge has also accumulated on the role of these core concepts in countries outside the global North. In particular, we explore forgiveness as a ritual of reintegration that has been marginalised in Western-based research but is the spiritual heartland of reintegration in cultures with long histories of change, conflict and adaptation. Reintegrative shaming theory in its evolving form explains why reshaping institutions to facilitate more effective conflict resolution and healing requires sensitivity to, and engagement with, culture and context. Ultimately, hybridity in institutional design is necessary to give meaning to change and security to transitions. The article also calls for researchers to embrace methodological pluralism in order to appreciate cultural practices that communicate reintegration and stigmatisation in different contexts. Such appreciation is at the heart of learning from each other without pedagogical domination.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10-22
    JournalThe International Journal of Restorative Justice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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