The International Journal of Restorative Justice

Article

Complying with display rules: the ‘managed heart’ in restorative justice

complementing ritual theories of emotional bonding

Keywords Emotional bonding, emotion management, display rules, offstage performance, re-storying
Authors Bas van Stokkom
Author's information

359191 Bas van Stokkom
Bas van Stokkom is criminologist and research fellow at the Faculty of Law, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
  • Abstract

      In this theoretical study it is argued, first, that ritual theories – at least those which are dominant in restorative justice literature – place too much emphasis on the potential positive impacts of emotional bonding. The author discusses some critical issues with respect to emotional bonding and points out that mutual understanding is rather the result of narrative re-appraising and re-assessing. Secondly, to explain the rather low emotional temperature of many (youth) conferences, emphasis is placed on emotion management theory, thereby suggesting that participants’ reservations and discomfort are related to rather demanding display rules (enact a sincere and authentic role; enact cooperativeness; etc.). The author identifies reasons why (young) participants cannot get grips on these rules and resort to a resigned ‘offstage’ performance. It is argued that display rules form an integral part of a relatively compelling ‘emotional regime’, a specific set of affective behavioural norms which define the ‘manners’ during the meeting. In this regime there is considerable social pressure to conform to norms and standards how to express emotions, which contradicts the restorative justice rhetoric of voluntary and spontaneous dialogue.

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