On Reintegrative Shaming: A Neo-Classical Critique

[1] Introduction to the Study
                   Table 1 - Questions arising from Initial Comparison of Approaches
[2] Theoretical Background
                   Table 2 - Rationalist Perspectives in Juvenile Crime & Justice
[3] Results by Putative Conditions of Reintegrative Shaming
           Condition 1 & 2 *Shaming & Limited Stigma
                   Table 3 - Operational Definition of Shaming Condition
           Condition 3 *Social Consensus
           Condition 4 *Denunciation on Behalf of Victims & Society
           Condition 5 *De-Centred Process Control of Denunciation
                   Table 4 - Subconditions of De-Centred Process Control, or Informalism
           Condition 6 *Offender Ritual Dissociation & Restitution
           Condition 7 *Reduction of Social Distance
           Conditions 8 & 9 *Inclusion Rituals
[4] Conclusions
           Finding 1 - Crime-control nexus not shown
           Finding 1A - Labelling theory not demolished by reversibility of labels
           Finding 2 - Shame-integration nexus inconclusive on the evidence
           Finding 3 - Identity-crime nexus has not been shown
           Finding 4 - Disempowerment & Rational Calculus hypothesis
           Finding 5 - Weak support for mixed Rational-Structural model of crime
Ramifications & Agenda of an Informal Control Model

Bibliographical Citation

NEWMAN, C.A.   (1998).  On reintegrative shaming: a neo-classical critique [a comparison between republican and neo-classical models].  University of New England, Armidale, N.S.W. [Dept. of Sociology, School of Social Science: SOCY-254-8].

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Braithwaite's harsh treatment (1989) of neo-classical criminology has deflected attention from common ground with his own model, including adoption of a structurally hedged rationalism, and cognitive learning theory.  Beccaria's classicism at a theoretical level yielded a general model of crime with some deficiencies of omission.  It did nevertheless evolve in practice:  sometimes in retributive, repressive or sectional directions;  elsewhere in a legal jurisprudence that has incorporated aspects of positivist ['rehabilitative'] and social constructionist ['interactionist'] models within a rational libertarian framework.  The model of econometric rationalism bears little resemblance to realist neo-classical models used in practice which explain juvenile crime in terms of structural (including conflict) conditions filtered through a theatre of rational action, admitting as an occasional but important intervening variable the interactionist phenomenon of deviant labelling (secondary deviance).  The need for a hybrid rational model that incorporates sophisticated elements of reintegrative communitarianism, labelling and classicism without denying the primacy of constraining non-rational, structural variables merits investigation.

My study is based on data supplied in a longitudinal field study by Braithwaite and Mugford (1994), who sought to refine a number of general principles or conditions for the successful operation of reintegrative shaming within two juvenile justice contexts.  I seek to elucidate the relevance of rational conditions to juvenile justice systems in two implementations of the model of reintegrative shaming, with the aim of evaluating key aspects of the model in the light of a contrasting neo-classical model.  The 'evolved' neo-classical model I will construct from the mainstream jurisprudence of the NSW Childrens Court.  The paper will proceed by means of a brief theoretical comparison;  a set of qualitative analyses of interactive responses to reintegrative shaming ('RS-') processes, generalised from conferences held in Auckland, New Zealand and Wagga Wagga, Australia;  and a conclusion contrasting theories in the light of findings.  RS-interactions absorbed traditional practices in New Zealand, but were largely alien in the Wagga context.  Data drawn from Braithwaite and Mugford (1994) is distilled from twenty-three juvenile offender conferences of varying lengths.   These studies can be justified in terms of [1] obtaining information about rational models which can only be obtained from naturalistic research;  [2] elucidating social systems and negotiation processes that produce juvenile justice outcomes;  and [3] negative case analysis to refine theory.  In respect of the latter, a 'reintegration' in the absence of the relevant 'condition' will be taken to be a negative instance.  The basic tenet of qualitative research is that people actively involved in juvenile justice systems and processes are a microcosm of the whole, illustrating the way beliefs, attitudes and behaviour negotiate justice outcomes.


Table 1
The questions I will endeavour to answer are :
1___ Does the Braithwaite and Mugford study give qualitative support for the RS-proposition that social control via social (re-)integration leads to a reduction in propensity for juveniles to engage in criminal acts ?  ('social control-social integration-crime' nexus).
2___ Does shaming, as stipulatively defined by the conditions set down in RS-theory, bring about social reintegration ?  ('shame-integration' nexus).  Is shaming qualitatively different from stigmatisation ?
3___ Do RS-interactions imply de-criminalising changes in underlying social identities?  ('social identity-crime' nexus).
4___ Do RS-interactions alternatively imply socially sensitive re-evaluations of the costs and benefits of criminal activity ?  ('rational social evaluation-crime' nexus).
5___What is the relevance of rational conditions [if any] to juvenile justice outcomes [if any] ?  ('rational conditions-crime' nexus).

Research questions for the original study and my own coincide only at [2] above.  Braithwaite and Mugford ask whether

in at least one area - the punishment of juvenile offenders … it is possible to develop practices that 'work' … in the sense of reducing recidivism and reintegrating offenders into a wider web of community ties and support (1994: 139).

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The original study treats a number of juvenile crime linkages as self-evident or covered by prior argument.  It relies on Braithwaite's earlier work (1989) for claims to have discovered

shaming as the reinforcer of crime and conformity which is more critical than other reinforcers (Braithwaite, 1989: 52)
and that explanation will be enhanced by
integrating control, subcultural, opportunity and labelling theory into a cognitive learning theory framework organized around the partitioning of reintegrative shaming from stigmatization (ibid.).
A 'social control-crime' nexus is a central feature, implying processes such as drift and containment, sense of irresponsibility and injustice (Matza, 1964), or attachment, commitment and involvement (Hirschi, 1969).  In RS-theory control is linked to delinquency indirectly through group dynamics.  Questions (1994: 140) about the satisfaction of victims, and about increasing social cohesiveness, are linked to the reintegrative potential of conferencing.  Whilst cohesiveness is defined in terms of 'stake in conformity' and thus assumes a conservative-functional view of society, the model also uses the liberal-functionalist concept of 'dominion' (Braithwaite & Pettit, 1990).
The theory of reintegrative shaming is rationalist insofar as it rules out strict structural determinism and adopts the active conception of the criminal (Braithwaite, 1989: 9).
However this is a soft rationalism in that although
the criminal is seen as making choices - to commit crime, to join a subculture, to adopt a deviant self-concept, to reintegrate herself, to respond to others' gestures of reintegration (ibid.)
these choices and interactions exist
against a background of societal pressures mediated by shaming (ibid.).
That is, the juvenile offender is subjectively free, but in Braithwaite's terminology 'temptation' may be greater or lesser depending upon circumstances, especially 'moralising' and 'shaming' in the context of interdependency, and social location defined by communitarianism. The positive moral reinforcer is the 'stake in conformity' fostered by membership of a 'communitarian culture', defined by
a network of attachments to conventional society (op.cit.: 102).
Table 2
Rationalist perspectives in juvenile crime and justice
Issue Labelling RS-Theory Neo-Classical
Crime Secondary deviance conferred by those with power to label Denial of dominion Violation of law, rights, or social contract
Cause Stigmatisation & negative effects of labelling
[Primary deviance is related to other causes]
Lack of self-sanctioning conscience; low level of interdependency [social connections] related to low communitarianism Rational choice [highly influenced by irrational decisions, mental & social constraints, stigma &c]
Character Determined by labelling process; some voluntary input in interactive negotiation of label Voluntary & determined simultaneously - responsibility & opportunity [incl. social control] combined Partly voluntaristic, part determined by circumstances [structural & environmental] or individual differences
Response Diversion from formal system;
Reintegrative shaming [informal guided encounter with moralising character, victim empowerment & restorative functions] Punishment- must be proportional, certain [=fixed, determinate, limited] & prompt; 
+ some rehabilitation
Prevention Decriminalisation & radical non-intervention Communitarianism [& interdependency];
promote valued norms
Deterrence [& isolation]
[+ rehabilitation, welfare, some structural changes]
Justice Tolerance, minimal intervention Moralising ceremonies of shaming part of social life of community Rule of law, legal- philosophical approach, a priori principles
(Sources: Cunneen & White, 1995: 45, 66; Vold & Bernard, 1987: 20-34)

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RS-theory can be summarised as a rationalist version of control theory, which incorporates intervening variables from many other crime theories, and then adopts as its mechanism at an individual level the psychological perspective of cognitive (social) learning theory.

Neo-classical theory reflected in the jurisprudence of the Childrens Court places a limited categorically free margin of rational action within a positivist framework which includes learned cognitive behaviour; also interactive (labelling), structural (control) and dynamic (politico-economic) parameters.   RS-theory on the other hand defines juvenile crime as a two-way interaction between blame-avoiding rationalisations for which the delinquent is essentially responsible, and predominantly structural (control) features such as 'individualism' (egoism and anomie).  Braithwaite's rational causes of crime are only hypothetically free, since reasons result from ultimate psychophysical identity with structure, and crime is finally reduced to opportunity and individualism.  Neo-classical theory instead implies a psychophysical interaction between ultimately separable structural and rational worlds, that is, categorical freedom to invest energy or not in the goals determined in the social world.  This implies a 'searchlight theory of consciousness' (Popper & Eccles, 1983 [1977]: 471-478) at a mind-body interface where conditioned cognitive learning according to stimulus-reflex criteria determines the range of behavioural alternatives available for the rational actor to choose from.  The Courts have long accepted, within a rationalist framework, that a number of unreflective stimuli to crime are best explained by the sociological environment of the young person, including interactive, welfare and dynamic factors.

Whilst the notion of reinforcement comes directly from Bandura's social learning theory, concepts of absolute responsibility draw heavily on Sartrian subjective denial of positive causes.  Absolute moral autonomy is the basis of an 'authenticity' ethic in postmodern morality.   Informal, denunciatory and existential aspects of the RS-conference are ideologically aligned.  The interaction resembles both encounter group and 'talk show' with public denunciation, cathartic confession, and superficial forgiveness and community support.

Victims are prepared to forgive young persons as long as the young  persons are prepared to take responsibility for what they have done (Kitcher, 1997, quoted in ABC Radio News, 28/3/97).

A 'new right' criminology of judicial repression and retribution can also be traced to existentialist resurgence of a radical resposibility ethic.  In speaking of 'fighting for the soul' of the juvenile offender, Braithwaite uses a Christian metaphor derived from pre-classical (especially puritan) penitential models of crime in which there is no 'is-ought' distinction between crime and morality.  This sits precariously with the concept of maximum liberty ('dominion') adopted in his later defence of reintegrative shaming.  Whilst the earlier approach uses a conservative definition of crime as normative and static rather than selective and dynamic, the later concept of dominion yields a liberal-functionalist view of social structure.   Braithwaite argues that rights ('dominion') and duties ('conformity') must strike a balance, but this has difficult implications for 'shaming' since, prima facie, 'dominion' is corrosive of the foundation of shaming, 'communitarianism'.

Both models are mildly rather than radically rationalist-libertarian.  Braithwaite explicitly draws on models of social control and secondary deviance [degradation] , and acknowleges structural and conflict levels of causal contribution.  So does current legal practice in the Childrens Court, based on neo-classical theory.  It is the meaning, effect and arbitrariness of the shaming process, that neo-classical theory must confront, ironically armed with those same interactionist studies of secondary deviance which provided insights against uncritical operation of classical justice systems.  Labelling theory, best viewed as a partial theory of crime, has explained negative operation of incarceration of juveniles with some effectiveness (Lemert, 1972, in Haralambos, 1980: 432).  Few would now argue that secondary deviance of juveniles locked into the prison system is imaginary.

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Grouped data include the observation that

the formal properties of the cautioning conference have come to take on a ceremonial or ritual character (op.cit.: 41).
All criminal justice ceremony is interpreted as symbolic,
a sharp rite of transition at once moving him out of his normal position in society and transferring him into a distinctive deviant role (Erikson, 1962: 311; in Braithwaite & Mugford, 1994: 141).
However, Braithwaite disagrees that
an important feature of these ceremonies in our culture is that they are  almost irreversible (ibid.),
a view he says is 'simplistic, exaggerated and overly deterministic', due to the 'myopic' vision of labelling theorists.

Conditions 1 & 2 *Shaming.

Braithwaite's first condition of successful reintegration is shame itself, which sometimes receives self-contradictory treatments in relation to stigma.  Operationally, Braithwaite and Mugford (1994: 143-145) require a particular sequence of features as set out in Table 3 (below).   In this sequence, they regard as particularly effective

the anguish of the offender's mother during the ceremony [in order to] bring home to the offender the need to confront rather than deny an act of irresponsibility (ibid.: 144).
In an example of 'successful' shaming, a sobbing mother speaks of her delinquent son daunted by the 'mountain of adolescence':  'They can decide not to climb the path up the mountain but to wander in the easier paths out into the valley.  Those paths, while they are easier, lead to greater darkness.  I'm concerned that my little boy took one of those paths and I'm losing him into the darkness ' (Case 1; op.cit.: 144).

Table 3.   Operational definition of shaming condition.
(1)  non-normalisation of the deviant act;
(2) active presence of the offender's normal social network of significant
          others, family and friends;
(3)  persuasion of offender to assume absolute responsibility for the act without
          'externalisation' or 'positivisation' of causes;
(4)  communication by the victims of the moral quality of the act
          including its moral negligence ('irresponsibility');
(5)  communication of facts of collateral damage;
(6)  expression of anguish by offender's network;
(7)  stigmatic attacks on the offender within limited framework of
          deflection and social support;
(8)  feeling of anguish by offender for victims.

(Source: Braithwaite & Mugford, 1994: 143-145)

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From a classical perspective, such shaming is an example of informal punishment relative to a status rather than certain and proportional punishment relative to an act.  In neo-classical legal jurisprudence an act includes a mental event ('mens rea') as well as an overt behaviour.  For the status offence of 'incomplete development', an informal punishment here is extended to the offender's mother by deliberate excitation of her anguish.  In terms of objective moral consensus, the argued basis of the RS-system, this is manifestly unjust. The conflict between unjust means and a just social end, which Braithwaite tries  to justify, is a contradiction that must reduce social investment in, and stability of, the RS-process.

Some examples of partial failure of shaming are given.  In Case 2, a co-ordinator asks 'James, why are your parents upset?'  to which James does not reply.  When the co-ordinator suggests 'Do you think it's  because they care about you?' , James replies 'Don't know' , a deflection of responsibility interpreted as due to 'psychological mismanagement' by the co-ordinator (p.145).  No evidence is provided of this.  In Case 3 'the worst stigmatic attack we observed', the mother of a 14 year old girl arrived at the conference against her will, and when she saw her daughter said 'I'll kill you, you little bitch … this is a load of rubbish … she should be punished' , before storming out (p.145).  According to the observers,

victim supporters who had arrived at the conference very angry at the  offender were now sorry for her and wanted to help.  Their anger turned against a mother who could abandon her daughter (ibid.).
Evidence for limitation is poor.  The effect of the stigmatisation may or may not have been limited by the responses of victims.  We can however predict that the importance of a status confered by powerful significant others is likely to be greater than that confered by victims.  It is thus likely that the arbitrary form of the RS-interaction permitted secondary deviance, as predicted by alternative rationalist theories.  Far from deterrence, the effect of the conference may be to marginalise the young person further and to negotiate recidivist master status.

In Case 4, 'outcasting' of the child occurs in which outgroup terms are used by the mother, 'He used to be a good boy until then'.   The co-ordinator is said to successfully divert stigmatisation by his retort 'And he still is a good boy.  No one here thinks we're dealing with a bad kid.  He's a good kid who's made a mistake and I hope he knows now that that's what we all think of him'  (p.145).  Unconditional positive regard here differentiates the criminal act from the offender.  This is advocated, though infrequently practiced, in criminal legal jurisprudence, but with a contrasting rationale to avoid (1) distraction from the act and its certain consequence; (2) pontificating about choices whose moral quality cannot be fully adduced from evidence; or (3) vilification, which is arbitrary, inaccurate and anti-consensual.  In classical criminology the operation of justice is limited to a 'syllogism of act and consequence', all else being 'superfluous and for that reason tyrannical' (Beccaria [1764] , in Vold & Bernard, 1995: 23).

We are told that

even as they use stigmatic terms, ordinary citizens understand the concept of communicating contempt for the deed similtaneously with respect for the young person (Braithwaite & Mugford, 1994: 146).
In Case 5, a Maori elder reduced a young offender 'to tears' by a half-derisory launch into a speech offering conditional terms for positive regard: 'Stealing cars.  You've got no brains boy … but I've got respect for you.  I've got a soft spot for you.  I've been to see you play football … You're a brilliant footballer, boy.  That shows you have the ability to knuckle down … We're not giving up on you'  (ibid.).  Evidence of tears is, however, insufficient to lend support to the interpretation that the RS-interaction led to shame or reintegration.  Tears of ambivalence, frustration, manipulation, self-pity, hysteria or embarrassment might just as easily be adduced from the description.  Subsequent resentment, assumption of a deviant master status, distraction from rational evaluation of the delinquent act, and reduction in commitment to concepts of justice derived from social consensus, are as plausible from the facts as moral deterrence.
Assuming rational, sociological and psychological factors in criminal acts, then where delinquent behaviour is contrary to the child's usual behaviour it might be more appropriate to unearth and treat the basic cause of [this type of] delinquency, usually some buried resentment of a former age (Hadfield, 1974 [1962] : 251).
The advantage of a neo-classical approach is that it permits the recognition of a psycho-neurotic antecedent in certain cases without either having to dismantle its general perspective of 'rational input' or having to deny a most profound relevance to social conditions contrary to the 'strict responsibility' regime of RS-theory.

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Condition 3 *Social consensus

On the operation of 'social consensus', RS-theory proposes that identification of the co-ordinators

with all private parties - perpetrators, their families, victims, witnesses  - as well as being identified with the public interest in upholding the law (op.cit.: 147)
will lead to more effective shaming and reintegration.  No case material is offered, beyond the assurance that consensus is reached '90 per cent of the time at both research sites' (ibid.).   No measurement details are given of how this percentage was arrived at, nor how consensus was operationally measured.  Was silence interpreted as passive assent, for example?   Were non-verbal behaviours assessed?

Condition 4 *Denunciation on behalf of victims & society

The condition concerning denunciation in the name of 'victims' and the 'supra-personal values enshrined in the law' appears to endow the social worker with priestly duties.  More practical subsidiary needs are [1] that victims attend, related to sub-condition [2] that

successful reintegration requires confronting the private hurts and losses from the crime (op.cit.: 147) .
Whilst victim representative attendance was nearly universal in Wagga, in New Zealand the rate was less than 50 percent.  The study should have investigated the relative success rates based on this condition.  RS-theory predicts that a victimless ceremony will not be successful.  The original study implies that the New Zealand outcomes were generally as reintegrative as their N.S.W. counterparts.  If this is true, then victim attendance is not a 'condition' of successful reintegration as predicted.  Moreover, elsewhere the study notes
failure as a result of [victim] dissatisfaction remains.  In fact over a third of victims who attended the conferences said they felt worse after the conference (op.cit.: 149).
The principles of victim restoration and moral consensus leading to reintegration should properly be tested as quite separable conditions.  If it becomes widely expected that one-third of victims are going to feel worse, it seems unlikely that this condition is a practical one.

Condition 5 *De-centred process control of denunciation

This condition aims to give process control to non-authoritative actors (op.cit.: 148), and consists of a sequence of sub-conditions, which I have summarised in Table 4 (below).


Table 4.    Sub-conditions of 'de-centred process control'.

(1) victim satisfaction [the major aim] ;
(2) moral bids for the offender by the victim ['battle for the offender's soul'] ;
(3) reconciliation;
(4) social empowerment of the actors through a non-court room setting;  and,
(5) offender describing incident in own words ['owning' delinquent actions
       rather than being alienated from them] .
(Source: Braithwaite & Mugford, 1994: 148-150)

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In Cases 6 and 7, an independent observer noted 'they all wanted to win the battle for his [the offender's] soul rather than his money'  (p.149).  Such

readiness of victims not to insist on compensation claims but to press instead for signs of remorse and willingness to reform (ibid.)
is taken to be a generalisable characteristic where victim aggression is not provoked by disempowerment due to a formal court setting.

An alternative explanation is that victim empathy with the offender is an ungeneralisable demand characteristic of the interaction because of its special political and experimental context.  Demand characteristics are not discounted in the original study.  For example, observers noted after a training conference for co-ordinators in Wagga that 'some of the contributions to the training by local social workers and psychologists undercut the shifts away from stigmatisation and toward community empowerment.  The tendency was to speak and reasonin abstract categories such as 'problem youth' in a way that, taken seriously, would erode the agency and voice of participants in favour of the imposition of control by 'experts' '  (op.cit.: 160).  Whilst supporting the general principle of decentred control, this also shows that victim empathy is not to be assumed merely by empowerment, as it may be induced or discouraged by underlying power imbalance towards the co-ordinator.  This supposes a degree of 'suggestability' in victims, not without empirical support in studies of PTSD.

Condition 6 *Offender ritual dissociation & restitution

By this condition, the offender is expected to dissociate the 'responsible self' from the 'irresponsible self' by means of apology, accompanied by physical acts such as a handshake, hugging, kissing, handing over of compensation, offer of a beverage, or arranging to have dinner together.  This perhaps explains victim dissatisfaction already noted, if such situations are artificially engineered without genuine reflective invitation moving from the victims, and if

even the sincerest apology can be secured without challenging a delinquent identity (op.cit.: 151).
In Case 8, a 14 year old girl apologised with feeling to an elderly woman for stealing a cheque from the mail box, admitting this 'must have been awful for the victim'  (ibid.) but equally refusing the idea of any community work in recompense.  'It's too much time.  I want to be a normal street kid and if you're a street kid you need time to be on the  street.'   It is obvious that to change a rational view of behaviour, the propensity to behave in one way is consistently conceptualised as less attractive than an alternative behaviour.  Whilst it is not clear that a 'responsible self' has to be conceptualised in order to achieve this, apology does seem to acknowledge a social dimension in the negative consequences to be associated with delinquent behaviour in a learning model.  But is the effective negative reinforcement at the social level of analysis shaming or disempowerment ?  Moreover, since
reversion from deviant to mainstream identities is the norm with progressing age (Hirschi & Gottfredson, 1983, in op.cit., 1994: 152)
is either especially relevant to most delinquency ?

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Condition 7 *Reduction of social distance

This is to be achieved by means of open communication, empathy and opportunities for expressions of generosity between victims and offenders (p.152).  Case 9 concerned a father and son who had a 'stormy relationship'.  A successful (reintegrative) outcome was again interpreted from the tears of the young offender, this time elicited by a policeman: 'Look what you have done to your father and mother.  If your father hit you, you'd stay hit.  You wouldn't be getting up.  But he hasn't.  [Offender gasps his chest heaving with unnatural struggling for air].  I was always angry and bitter at my father.  He was a hard man.  Then he died.  Then I realised how I loved and missed the old bastard.  Don't wait till your father dies, Mark'  (p.153).  It is hard to see from this evidence alone how the conclusion can be drawn that a [possibly] empathic bid resulted in reintegration or even shaming.  'Unnatural struggling for air' can be linked to hysteria rather than social identity.

Conditions 8 & 9 *Inclusion rituals

This refers to movement from outgroup to ingroup social relations in the ritual location of the offender and the victim.
Common legal processes of a gessellschaft society sanitise such physical  moments out of transactions (op.cit.: 154)
a failing Braithwaite (after Weber) terms 'disenchantment'.  Restitution from offender to victims is followed by a physical ritual welcoming the offender symbolically into the 'community of conformity'.  In this regard, one person's fish is another's poison - what is 'enchanting' symbolism for Braithwaite and Mugford may appear false or hypocritic to other participants.  No specific case data are provided.  Argument for more formal arrangements is that they cannot easily degenerate into social saccharine, as likely to be repellent as reintegrative.

Condition 9 is similar.  The victim must be reintegrated by rituals of inclusion, to which similar criticisms apply.  After 'a terrifying assault on a much younger boy and girl, the boys offered to come around to the home of the victim family to apologise… The young girl looked afraid and said that she did not want them coming near her home.  It was decided that they would apologise in writing.'   The sergeant reassured the victim family, who said 'they felt more sorry for the boys than afraid of them.  The mother said later that she had come to see them as frightened little boys'  (Case 10: p.155).  Here obviously demand characteristics relate to what is expected to be said in the context of an unequal status interaction, for the status of 'sergeant' can be expected to induce a dissimulating, agreable response.  Probably reintegration of neither victim nor offender was achieved.

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The interrelationship between social control, social (re-)integration and crime is inconclusive.  Some evidence for manifest and immediate reintegration as a result of implementing the principles of RS-interactions has been adduced, but on the questions of deterrence and social control the original study relies on the work of Hirschi.  There are no negative cases to falsify the claim that the offender's propensity to crime is associated with social control in the sense of value conformity, but little evidence either way.  Whilst value conformity behaviour is (mostly) enhanced by the RS-interactions selected for report, the extent to which this behaviour reflects underlying changes in delinquent propensities is problematic.  Other explanations include manipulation, temporary conformity, multiple social identity and dissimulation.  It is unconvincing that Braithwaite, who proposes multiplicity of social identities in line with Bandura's social learning model, here argues that simple first person avowals relating to just one 'identity' indicate colonisation of other social identities by a conformist master identity.

A problem for RS-theory is that it assumes that to make room for a social control theory of crime it must first demolish labelling theory.  This is in large part due to mistaking a partial theory (secondary deviance) for a general theory of crime.  The attack is mounted through examples said to show that 'reversibility' falsifies 'deviance through labelling'.   None of the examples given is effective. People who come out of mental hospitals in fact often do continue to behave in ways interactively defined by a label of mental illness.  On the other hand ceased behaviour might well be due to removal or replacement of a label.  Secondary deviance is a partial explanation for delinquency and for entrenchment of criminal behaviour, whilst primary deviance may be structural, dynamic, random or defined by legislative factors.  Interactionists argue that there is a labelling reason for cessation of behaviours of secondary deviance, that is precisely because the deviant master status has been renegotiated and interactively removed.  In neo-classical theory, legal norms are flexible enough to recognise that rational evaluation of the worth of deviant behaviour can be affected by the secondary public status accorded to the young offender, a de facto recognition of secondary deviance.

The Act closes the Children's Court to the public and

although members  of the press are allowed to be present at the hearings they cannot publish the names of the accused.  Nor can children under the age of sixteen who are before the Court on a criminal matter have a conviction recorded against them.  The same applies to children aged over sixteen who are dealt with summarily (Naffine & Wundersitz, 1993, in  Chappell  & Wilson [eds.] , 1993: 242).
Such provisions run counter to shaming but favour reintegration via normalisation and prevention of vilification.  Whilst denying the 'soft' and 'indulgent' approach of labelling theorists, Braithwaite similarly implicitly defends the concept of secondary deviance in his analysis of degradation ceremonies as described by Garfinkel.  Braithwaite wants to put to sea in the ship he says he has scuttled.

Findings relating to [2] the shame-integration nexus are inconclusive on the evidence.  Whilst there are manifest sequences of shame to communal reappraisal and incorporation of the shamed individual, the latent movement of interest is subsequent reintegration of the offender into society in respect of relationships, memberships and normative propensities.  This is in principle an observable sequence, but cannot be adduced from the data here presented.  Certain cases do lend tentative support for a changed system of negotiated social status in respect of significant players.  The problem is that the sequence of operations for RS-interactions is so complex that it is impossible to identify from this study whether it was the 'shaming' conditions [1, 4 and 5] , the 'reintegrative' conditions, or an interaction between them (as predicted by Braithwaite), that brought about negotiation of reintegration.  Given the work done in stigmatisation studies, it seems unlikely to be stigmatic conditions that brought about a reintegrative outcome.  The status of that outcome is also far from assured.  Whilst a superficial decriminalising change has been demonstrated in social identity in a number of cases in terms of the propensities mentioned, no changed propensity to actually engage in delinquent behaviour has been demonstrated, unless assumptions of control-crime nexus canvassed in research question [1] are accepted. An 'identity-crime' nexus [3] has not been demonstrated.

Research question [4] concerned the alternative rational hypothesis that what was actually occuring in the interactions was incorporation of a social consequence into a pleasure-pain calculus.  In other words, any success of RS-strategy might be interpreted in neo-classical terms as the consequence of 'social pain', whether through shaming or through perceived disempowerment.  It is probable that some form of new calculus of social consequences was one of the results of successful 'reintegrative' interactions.  If so, the model offering best fit for individual responses seems to be the partly vicarious, partly experienced perception of the negative reinforcement of social disempowerment associated with delinquency.  Reasons for crime are re-interpreted by reintegrated delinquents as irrational appraisals of results, especially failure to include social disempowerment in the initial appraisal of outcome.  This analysis benefits from closer affinity with Bandura's social learning theory, empirically well tested.

The study weakly supports a finding [5] for a mixed rational and structural model based on social control theory.   However, the rational model which more consistently explains delinquency remains a neo-classical model, amended to take into account a sentencing role for interactive conferencing.  This would include vicarious modelling and experiencing of the negative social reinforcement of disempowerment associated with the delinquency act within a supportive framework of reintegrative interactions.  Whilst shaming in the RS-model is the prime motivator, via the stake in conformity, to law abiding behaviour, the case studies provide more consistent and simpler evidence for social disempowerment as negative reinforcer than for shaming.  Given that RS-theory postulates communitarianism as both the condition for conformity ('no-crime') and for shaming, it would also appear circular to claim that shaming is necessary for the stake in conformity.  The alternative classical model does not assume any prior conditions, leaving this an open question according to the individual circumstances of the case.  It merely states that, given a rational component to delinquency, that component is best addressed by rational association of the delinquent act with limited negative consequences which are definite and subscribe to consensual a priori principles of justice.  Neo-classicism allows rehabilitative concerns, such as reintegration, to be addressed in sentencing.  A conferencing development within classical sentencing which incorporates both the negative reinforcement of social disempowerment and the rehabilitative and restorative function of reintegration predicted in RS-theory, aided by formal principles of natural justice, would offer a more stable and realistic position.

The difficulty for research in the field is to parsimoniously explain and link complexities of juvenile criminology using strategies that permit in principle falsification.  The weakest aspects of the original study are methodological.  How can the claim that RS-rituals increase interdependency and social control at the expense of crime be falsified when operationally Braithwaite and Mugford insist that an indeterminate number of trials (1994: 163-4) be permitted before a finding of failure to support the model is found ?   Also, as Braithwaite assumes that crime is a control phenomenon, and that social control increases with social integration, the study seems to be reduced to showing qualitatively a link between the direction of interdependency in RS-interactions and the direction of pro-social bids by juvenile offenders, the latter standing as an operational indicator for the direction of social identity away from postulated 'criminogenic' master status.  This is an indirect and remote way of investigating hypotheses about the relationship between crime deterrence and RS-interactions, and refusal of the methodology to take failure of a conference at face value further reduces credibility.  The data suffer further from being one-sided in mainly examining the words and beliefs of non-offenders.

A number of questions are begged in the original study, starting with the question of operational indication of social control in terms of pro-social bids.   Braithwaite admits these might be delivered on demand without underlying renegotiation of social identity.  Some operational instances of 'social interdependency' are refered to but its theoretical meaning is left implied and problematic.  Is this condition economic, psychological or rational ?  All seem to be vaguely implied.  Apparently this interdependency is social 'functionality' at a most general level.  However abstract, this remains a quantitative concept, and the appropriateness of a naturalistic research strategy is thus questionable, whilst the problem of quantification of such functionality is seemingly insurmountable.  Finally, the implied latent concept of interfunctionality belongs to radical functionalism, shown wanting by conflict and labelling theorists (also by Braithwaite,1989: 186).

There is a prima facie difficulty in distinguishing shaming from stigmatisation, either at all, or without adopting groundrules of 'justice' drawn from classical theory (Hogan, 1993; Cunneen & White, 1995: 149; cf. Radzinowicz, 1948).  These include 'rules of relevance' relating to character and hearsay to prevent demand features of interactions from determining outcomes unfairly, and 'rules of best evidence' relating to whether assertions are testable.  Braithwaite advocates abolition of such rules as inimical to an informal process (1989:160).  Admitting that more juveniles will be unfairly found guilty when innocent than under the system it replaces, he argues that the social interest will still be better served.  First, he says reintegrative functions of informal social denunciation and shaming will ameliorate any damage.  Secondly, he argues that the defence of the social rule that has been broken, and of the principles of communitarianism and interdependency, outweigh the negative individual impacts.  The idea of the 'scapegoat', in which a socially integrative end is used to justify the means of sacrificing a falsely accused on the altar of rule worship, is a derivative of ethical relativism that sits oddly with assertion of a consensual objective morality.   Amelioration of the harm through reintegration is obviously incompatible with this assertion.  Since the denunciation was false it is offensive to moral consensus, and the effect on young offenders would be to erode the effect of social rules generally, and the conditions of reintegration (communitarianism and interdependency) in particular.  Rough justice is a scheme for social dis-integration.

Tenets of RS-theory such as reintegration, interdependency and communitarianism may come to form a powerful, supported body of theory which confront and augment, but do not ultimately negate an essentially neo-classical model, together explaining front-end causation, gratification and rational deterrence of juvenile crime.  Structure is said to be more remote to crime than rational choices, whether free or determined or both, in that it cannot obliterate the intervening effect on action of rational conditions and contexts.  Justice systems consist of social actors at an individual level of analysis;  this naturally cannot replace or eclipse the more fundamental conflict role of political economy in analysis of crime as such.  The appropriateness of perspective ultimately depends upon whether the phenomenal level of analysis is justice system ('front end' interactions) or criminogenic system ('deep level' structures or 'political economy' dynamics).

The conflict between unjust means and a just social end, which Braithwaite envisages as endemic and which he attempts to justify, is an ideological contradiction that must reduce social investment in the RS-process.  As RS-practices are extended (as envisaged) to informal trials, scapegoating, revenge, hearsay and rumour, these contradictions will multiply.  Such a process could be regarded dynamically as inherently unstable and transient, a final form of which may rather be a lynch mob, a Kangaroo Court, a Committee for Public Safety, or a People's Court.  Dynamically, these represent more stable forms of informal denunciatory sanction than RS-interactions since they are, without any scruples, hypocrisy or self-contradiction, honestly based upon scapegoating and revenge.  Although reflecting a reduced, brutal social functionality suited to authoritarian systems, fear of informal denunciation within an arbitrary justice system is also in the systemic interests of postmodern technocracies with excess population and high unemployment.

Without more classical, dynamic and interactionist input, Braithwaite's system will benefit the interests of those (1) who wish to deflect attention from the structural causes of conflict and crime; (2) who find in a priori safeguards of freedom and justice within the classical justice system an impediment to social movements towards either collectivism or fascism;  or, (3) who are able to infiltrate, influence, corrupt and control through the network of RS-justice social workers the more arbitrary and less independent system envisaged.

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BRAITHWAITE, J.   (1989).  Crime, shame and reintegration.  Cambridge: University Press, pp. 9-12 'human agency'; 38-43 'on consensus'; 52 'RS is partly a learning theory of crime'; 76 'gossip: moral importance of ~; unifying character of ~'; 84-97 'social conditions of RS: communitarianism & interdependency'; 99 'summary [diagram]'; 108 'ethnographic research'; 131 'punishment vs. persuasion'; 157-161 'inevitable injustices of shaming'; 186 'moralising against criminals', 'social control vs. brutal, repressive police state'.

BRAITHWAITE, J. &  MUGFORD, S.   (1994).   Conditions of successful reintegration ceremonies: dealing with juvenile offenders.  British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 34, No.2, Spring: 139-168.

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CUNNEEN, C. &  WHITE, R.   (1995).   Juvenile justice: an australian perspective.  Melbourne: Oxford, pp. 33-36 'classical theory and the criminal act'; 57-62 'labelling theory'; 62-66 'republican [shaming reintegration] theory; 82 'new right criminology'; 190 'welfare and justice', 240-260 'diversion, community programs & informalism'.

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Title:  Reintegrative shaming: a neo-classical critique
Sub-title:  A comparison between republican and neo-classical justice models.
Author:   NEWMAN, Campbell Alexander
S/N: 8201391
Posting Date: 3 April 1998

The University of New England
School of Social Science /Criminology
Tutor:  JOBES, Patrick C.
Sociology 254:  Delinquency & Juvenile Justice

1. Criminology   2. Sociology  3. Delinquency

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