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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 3: Approaching law

Robyn Holder


This chapter explores how people understand and engage with law after violent victimization. It sketches law’s own dominating story, and the manner in which it seeks to impose. An alternate reality sees a constitutive relationship between law and social life. People who experience disadvantage, victimization, injustice or discrimination draw meaning about the event from their social environment as much as from the law itself. Different theories about, and research on, legal mobilization is described. Turning to the law after violence is a rare event and one that emerges from people’s membership of a bounded polity of citizens. As such legal mobilization is a social and civil practice influenced by cultural and legal schemas. The perspective highlights the interconnected and derivative nature between behavioural standards embodied in criminal law and wider social norms. Citizen-victims understand the limited and uncertain role law plays as a response to victimization.

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