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The Problem of Community in a Justice System in Transition: The Case of Community Restorative Justice in Northern Ireland

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The article describes how community restorative justice in Northern Ireland developed out of the civil conflict. It illustrates how its valuable work has been stifled by the reforms to the criminal justice system arising from the Northern Irish peace process. Habermas’s theory of the colonisation of the lifeworld by the system is used to explain how restorative justice tends to be marginalised or co-opted by the criminal justice system. The article concludes that any process of social reconstruction must focus as much on strengthening civil society as it does political reform and economic development.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer, School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, United Kingdom


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