Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Robert Craig

Second Advisor

Karen Ashcraft

Third Advisor

Bryan Taylor

Abstract

As the restorative justice (RJ) movement has gained momentum nationally, calls for "institutionalization" of RJ have materialized in the form of legislation and funding to increase the use and availability of this participatory, affective, particular/stakeholder-driven approach to conflict-management and criminal justice. Implementation of RJ within or alongside existing safety and justice bureaucracies is a site of collision between divergent and seemingly adversarial organizational forms. This thesis examines how rank-and-file police officers responded to the tensions of RJ implementation, and reveals two ironic outcomes of their referral practices: One irony epitomizes the lamentable bureaucratic tendencies toward alienation, rigidity, and hierarchy and highlights the need for particular and participatory control, while the other affirms the desirability of bureaucratic aims such as fostering procedural and situation-blind justice and minimizing opportunities for bias and discrimination through central/universal control. Applying Ashcraft's (2000, 2006) notion of organized dissonance, I propose that successful RJ institutionalization requires simultaneous achievement of contradictory aims, and present the research site as a case where hybridization of opposing logics is needed but is not adequately realized. By analyzing organizational communication differences between more and less successful cases of post/bureaucratic hybridization, I identify challenges to and possibilities for the intentional cultivation of organized dissonance. I conclude by considering implications for the prospect of a restorative turn in judicial practice.

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