Aligning theory and practice: deepening the understanding of restorative justice in Schools

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Publication Type dissertation
School or College College of Social Work
Department Social Work
Author Molloy, Jen K.
Title Aligning theory and practice: deepening the understanding of restorative justice in Schools
Date 2018
Description Restorative justice has gained attention as an alternative to harsh punishment for disciplinary problems in schools and as an approach for developing a sense of community within the school environment. There is, however, little research on the implementation process and the tensions between restorative justice and norms of schooling. Without a clear understanding of the philosophy of restorative justice, schools are including many practices under the umbrella of restorative justice, which actually perpetuate social inequities. Rather than implementing restorative justice to create a relationship-based environment, schools may see restorative justice as a way to serve the interests of adults in the school environment to better manage and control students. This distinction is characteristic of two broad strategies for responding to injustice: transformative and affirmative. Affirmative and transformative strategies can be distinguished by the level at which injustice is addressed-affirmative are concerned with outcomes and improvement to existing systems, and transformative target root causes and seek to restructure underlying generative frameworks. This case study utilized critical ethnographic techniques to examine how educators at an alternative high school understood, implemented, and responded to a new schoolwide restorative justice initiative, and how these experiences related to the creation of a transformative, relationship-based learning environment. Through observations, informal conversations, formal interviews, and focus groups, this study aimed to gain a iv holistic understanding of the history, meanings, individual and institutional practices, beliefs, and overall school culture as context for the implementation of restorative justice. The study found the alternative school to be pursuing a transformative agenda; yet, implementation was characterized by a number of tensions represented by the context. Thus, the process of implementation played out in a context that both supported and limited the possibilities for change. Specifically, the study found a "both and" condition where both interpretations-that restorative justice is being implemented from an affirmative understanding and that it is transforming the system-can exist side by side. Further, the study illuminated the power of the habitus of education and the need for implementation efforts that emphasize critical reflection and the creation of spaces characterized by relational trust.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Dissertation Name Doctor of Philosophy
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Jen K. Molloy
Format Medium application/pdf
ARK ark:/87278/s63c1zqm
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2021-05-28
Date Modified 2021-06-02
ID 1698741
Reference URL
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