Representaciones sociales de Justicia Restaurativa en una comunidad marginal
Social Representations are forms of knowledge that allow the subject or the group to appropriate external knowledge in the service of everyday life. Accordingly, the present study is about Restorative Justice, its Social Representations and their development in a group of adolescents, the tutors and supervisors belonging to a Foundation in a marginal and conflict-prone community in Aguablanca, Colombia. This institution aims at implementing this kind of justice as a new model and alternative to violent conflict resolution in the area. Being a new practice in this community, the emerging representations of Restorative Justice are a worthwhile object of study. Our interest is to investigate how local socio-cultural conditions interact with the new concept to transform its original understanding. There are three groups of respondents: Eleven adolescents, nine tutors and two consultants. The representatives of these groups play different roles in this program and they bring a different background to bear in the process. For data collection we use semi-structured interviews, participant observation, questionnaires, and field diaries of the researchers and participating students. We find that the Social Representation of the adolescents and the tutors departs considerably from the theoretical concept of Restorative Justice, while that of the consultants is closer to the original idea of the concept. We explain this finding as resulting from the developmental level of the participants’ moral system, the presence or absence of an egocentric perspective and the degree of emotional commitment. These conditions mediate between psychological and emotional factors and the possibilities and limitations set by the socio-cultural context within which the actors intervene.