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Just Interests

Victims, Citizens and the Potential for Justice

Robyn Holder

Just Interests: Victims, Citizens and the Potential for Justice contributes to extended conversations about the idea of justice – who has it, who doesn’t and what it means in the everyday setting of criminal justice. It challenges the usual representation of people victimized by violence only as victims, and re-positions them as members of a political community. Departing from conventional approaches that see victims as a problem for law to contain, Robyn Holder draws on democratic principles of inclusion and deliberation to argue for the unique opportunity of criminal justice to enlist the capacity of citizens to rise to the demands of justice in their ordinary lives.
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Chapter 2: Approaching justice

Robyn Holder


Justice matters to victims, justice professionals and the wider community, but why and in what ways? The chapter makes a path through justice literature to identify different meanings: justice is a norm; a philosophical ideal; a standard; an outcome; and also an institution. The chapter emphasizes the manner in which the idea of justice works; that is, as an interpretive tool, a trope in discourse, and as an analytic and critical code. Justice is thus conceived as a commonplace and public idea that is also vernacularized in interpersonal worlds. In these intimate spaces, the terms what is fair and what is right are commonly used by ordinary people. Justice is a word more generally reserved for public discourse. Therefore, it works as a connecting idea; something that links private to public, and offers opacity to language that, paradoxically, communicates what is important.

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