The meaning of making, gifting + solidarity in restorative justice processes

Clair Aldington, Jayne Wallace, Charlotte Bilby, Justin Marshall

This practice-based research investigated the meaning of making, gifting, and solidarity as they manifest themselves within restorative justice (RJ) processes, and drew on the application of interaction ritual to
RJ (Collins, 2004; Pemberton et al, 2017; Rossner, 2013; Strang et al, 2006).


The most successful RJ encounters are the most emotional, and those that achieve collective solidarity between participants (Rossner, 2013). The positive emotional energy generated by solidarity may be prolonged beyond the moment of the RJ encounter through the creation of material symbols (Collins, 2004; Rossner, 2013). The particular question this research asked was whether or not a co-created design thing, handmade and gifted as part of a RJ process, could become such a material symbol, as there are potential links between long-term positive emotional energy and a reduction in offending (Rossner, 2013). Co-created gifted design things were found to become symbols of solidarity by participants in this study through interviews and a longitudinal RJ case study. Design thinking and co-creative processes were intrinsic to the research methodology and utilised the existing practice of the researcher as both a maker as well as a RJ practitioner. A body of handmade work through a thinking through making process (Gray and Malins, 2004; Marshall and Wallace, 2017; Nimkulrat, 2012; Pajaczkowska, 2016) was also created. This included a set of printed and stitched wrapping cloths which investigated the meaning of solidarity in RJ processes, based on Japanese “Furoshiki”. These were co-created with research participants who included dancers, restoratively trained artists, people harmed through crime (victims), people responsible for causing crime (offenders), a criminal justice social worker and RJ practitioners and researchers. The case study was conducted through Space2face creative restorative practices organisation, Shetland, Scotland.

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