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Understandings of punishment and justice in the narratives of lay Polish people

Matczak, Anna (2017) Understandings of punishment and justice in the narratives of lay Polish people. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.t3ujv8rmt7v5


This research brings to light the Polish context of a post-socialist, post-transformation society of peasant roots and high religiosity which greatly contributes to the comparative criminological scholarship. The purpose of this doctoral research is to explore how a small number of Polish people understand punishment and justice, and how their narratives inform the viability of restorative approaches to justice. In so doing, this research recognises the value of lay opinion in the discussion of punishment and justice, and approaches punishment and justice as social activities, which echoes the argument that stories about crime and punishment are entangled with people’s daily routines, and as a result are lodged in their cultural imagination (see Garland & Sparks, 2000). The socialist past, hasty transition from socialism to democracy and from a centrally-planned to free market economy has influenced participants’ perceptions of the justice administration and the institutions involved in these processes. Lay Polish people shall be seen as Homo post-Sovieticus, whose perceptions of punishment and justice need to be analysed along with the legacy of the previous socialist system as well as post-1989 changes. Participants’ perceptions of the Polish criminal justice system, the Polish police and unpaid work assist to understand a number of factors that might influence the development of restorative justice in the Polish context. The findings of this study also encourage broadening the scope of the restorative justice discussion and examining its preconditions against wider sociological and criminological discourses on punishment and justice. Although the relationship might be defined as ‘uneasy’, restorative justice, since its conception, is interwoven with the two. One of restorative justice’s central hopes was to establish an alternative system of crime resolution that would eliminate the infliction of pain. However, the trajectory of restorative practices and demonstrates that the functioning of a majority of them is dependent on the criminal justice agencies and that there is a need to address better the notion of punishment in restorative encounters.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Anna Matczak
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Hutter, Bridget and Foster, Janet

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