Exploring opportunities for the use of digital communication systems in restorative justice practices
The digital revolution of the last decades caused many social and cultural changes in our societies. It has become increasingly easier to communicate over long distances via videochat tools, for instance. These types of technological developments may offer interesting alternatives to already existing forms of victim-offender mediation. Victim-offender mediation assists victims and offenders (who participate on a voluntary basis) in restoring a sense of justice after a crime has taken place. Contact between a victim and offender can happen face-to-face, or in a more indirect format, such as via letter writing. However, it is unclear in what way digital forms of victim-offender mediation can play a role in the future. Will the use of such digital systems increase the effectiveness of victim-offender mediation? Or is ‘going digital’ just not an option for such a tough setting as victim-offender mediation?
You will conduct a limited literature study in which you explore what researchers have already learned about existing forms of victim-offender mediation, including a characterization of each of these forms of mediation. In this literature study, you will also map out in what way digital communication systems may assist in, and/or offer a good alternative to already existing forms of mediation. Based on your literature study, you will formulate a research question and hypotheses. You will put these hypotheses to the test, following a research methodology of your choosing that suits your research question. You could for instance, ask your participants to read a scenario in which they imagine to take on the role of victim, mediator or offender who is communicating either face-to-face or via a digital platform, with the other parties. Following the scenario you could administer a questionnaire to test your hypotheses. In consultation, adjustment of the research focus or methodology is possible.
Umbreit, M. S., Coates, R. B., & Vos, B. (2004). Victim-offender mediation: Three decades of practice and research. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 22, 279-303.
Shapland, J., Atkinson, A., Atkinson, H., Chapman, B., Dignan, J., Howes, M., Johnstone, J., Robinson, G., & Sorsby, A. (2007). Restorative justice: The views of victims and offenders. London: Ministry of Justice Research Series 3/07.
Swaab, R. I., Galinsky, A. D., Medvec, V., & Diermeier, D. A. (2012). The Communication Orientation Model: Explaining the diverse effects of sight, sound, and synchronicity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 25-53.
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