The Works of Jürgen Habermas: A Tool for Further Understanding the Theory and Practice of Restorative Justice
Barrett, Audrey Laurel
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The theory of restorative justice has always lagged behind practice. As such, gaps in theory have existed over time and continue to exist today, particularly in terms of explaining “the magic” that occurs within the encounter process. By exploring the theories of Jürgen Habermas, it is suggested that new frameworks can be developed that can help theorists think about, and explain the experiences and outcomes central to restorative processes. This paper focuses on Habermas’ theory of universal pragmatics and communicative action as a means to better understand the mechanisms within the encounter process, and the conditions necessary, to give rise to common understanding, agreement, learning and strengthened relationships. It then examines Habermas’ concept of the lifeworld and the interplay with communicative action to shed light on restorative justice’s potential for community building through norm clarification, victim and offender reintegration and increased individual capacity.