The past forty years have been marked by a resurgence of interest in victim needs, rights, and experiences in what has been for many years a sector of top-down criminal justice policy-making. With the politicisation and responsibilisation of victims within this contemporary landscape, further emphasis has been placed on managing harm and delegating responsibility to those that remain in the aftermath of violence and a diverse victims’ movement has emerged over the past forty years that speaks to this claim. Despite the disruptive and overwhelming effects of lethal violence, bereaved families can often be found at the forefront of efforts to drive forward recognition of injustices, raise public awareness, and prompt criminal justice reform.
This research, funded and supported by an ESRC Post Doctoral Research Fellowship, explores these issues through the phenomenon of bereaved family activism: namely, the efforts of bereaved families to manage their experiences of violent death through public expressions of grief and become proxies for wider debates on social injustice.
This project has four key objectives:
- To contribute to literature on the effects of lethal violence on families. Lethal violence presents friends and families with a distinctive set of experiences to contend with a well-elaborated literature existing that demonstrates the often disruptive and overwhelming effects of violent death on those that remain in the aftermath. This project will contribute to this literature with the aim of better understanding the transmission of effects of lethal violence across ties of kinship, identity, and social bonds.
- To understand the importance of family activism in criminal justice policy making. The efforts of bereaved families have been central in driving forward policy reform, instigating new inquests and investigations, and informing public debates on issues of crime and punishment. This project aims to understand the place and potential of families in criminal justice policy and practice.
- To consider the international relevance of this phenomenon. Examples of bereaved family activism have emerged across the globe in an effort to raise awareness of social injustices and mobilise against state harms. This research aims to consider bereaved family activism in an international context and compare the various shapes and forms of this phenomenon and their impact upon public and political debates.
- To explore the significance of this phenomenon in the context of domestic homicide. This research will also explore the significance of this phenomenon in the context of domestic homicide and the distinctive dynamics that this experience presents families with in the aftermath.