Searching for Community in Restorative Justice

Di Tim Chapman

In: Philosophical Insights for a Theory of Restorative Justice XLVIII , No. 2 ( 2019 )

Sezione Saggi / Articles


The community is generally seen as an important element of restorative justice. Yet in actual practice it is difficult to discern a part played by community. This may be due to a lack of a clear understanding of what is meant by community and consequently a difficulty in defining its role. General theories of communities, including the organic gemeinschaft, communitarianism and the loss of community in modern society may have confused rather than clarified the role of community in restorative processes. New approaches to the philosophy of community have emerged in France and Italy in recent years. This chapter explores the work of Nancy, Agamben and Esposito seeking a fresh perspective from which to understand the practice of restorative justice. It concludes that the harmful event of a crime may provide an opportunity for being with people bonded by obligations to undo injustices and restore values which facilitate conviviality. In this sense restorative justice can activate temporarily in a specific space a community which can only be experienced rather than delineated, owned and immunised from external threats. An actual case will be offered as an exemplar of how this works in practice.