RESTORATION OF VOICE: FROM SUPPRESSION TO EXPRESSION
© 2018 William A. Bledsoe, PhD
One of the most striking differences between a coercive response to misconduct, and a restorative response has to do with voice. A coercive response suppresses voice. A restorative response invites it.
In a coercive response there are 3 voices: the explicit code or implicit norm, the person interpreting the code/norm and determining a sanction, and the person who acted “out of the norm.”
In this scenario the code is an unspoken voice, ever present, and therefore never questioned. The person in charge uses the account of the “offender”, extracts the necessary information from him/her to determine how the code or norm was transgressed, and applies a sanction/punishment (determined by the code). The account offered by the person who transgressed is used against him/her.
Both the code and the person in charge of interpreting the code are reauthorized. This is how a hierarchy of power is continually re-established. It’s a vertical and self-substantiating system of power-over governance, conflict and behavior control. The code is at the top; the interpreter in the middle; the person who acted out of the norm at the bottom. The interpreter’s role avoids question.
The rules are the rules. I didn’t make them!
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