Research activities

Please find some information about my main research projects below. Here you can read about the organisational frameworks of the projects as well as my roles in them. For the research reports and findings, please go to the publications site where you can find the abstracts and full texts of the papers.

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Restorative Justice study trip in England and in the USA

During this 5 weeks long research trip (supported by the COST Action A21 and the ELTE University Faculty of Social Sciences) I visited different types of organisations in England and in USA applying restorative justice in various contexts. The research was based on shadowing practitioners, participant observations and qualitative interviews conducted with professionals, victims and offenders. By these methods I aimed to gain a deeper insight into the different ways of applying the principles and techniques of restorative justice in
- school settings
- the social welfare and child protection system
- community development and neighbourhood contexts
- hate-crime issues and
- the criminal justice system, with special regard to the activities of the police, youth offending teams, the probation service and the prisons.

The further analysis of this research trip will focus on the commonalities and differences of the various models used in the different contexts. On the one hand it will discuss the main principles of restorative justice that are fundamental elements of each model; on the other hand it will highlight the ways in which these elements can be combined in a flexible way in order to fit in the given legal, institutional and systemic framework of certain projects.

You can find the scientific report of the trip here.

Changing lenses: the meaning of violence and crime in an ethnic Albanian context

This research primary aim is to study the ways in which the criminal and violent behaviour of certain segments of the ethnic Albanian population might be understood within the framework of the following four dimensions: culture/society (societal norms/cultural codes), economy (satisfaction of (basic) needs), psychology (emotional drives), and politics (effectiveness of criminal justice system/governmental structures/social capital). The analysis will both discuss the potential influences within each dimension as well as the possible interactions of these factors with each other. It is of a crucial importance to understand the underlining causes behind the massive involvement of ethnic Albanians in violent and profit oriented criminal activities in order to bring effective counter measures. Therefore, this project aims to elicit underlining motivations (cultural codes/values, economic needs/success, emotional drive, opportunity/politics) for committing crimes derived from respondents’ attitudes and beliefs about specific situations.

Chair of the Research Committee of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (from October 2005)

The Research Committee of the European Forum includes almost 40 researchers focusing on restorative justice-related research projects in the field of criminology, law, sociology, anthropology, political sciences and psychology in not less than 17 countries.

The Committee intends to help the research activities of members as well as contribute to the scientific developments of restorative justice by
- regularly providing information about recent publications, studies, conferences, projects for its members;
- stimulating networking and exchange amongst researchers in Europe, especially when concrete projects require international partnerships;
- providing exchange between the COST Action A21 (international research network in restorative justice) and the European Forum; and
- stimulating an ongoing critical reflection on the role of researchers and academics in restorative justice developments.

I send out a News-mail (EuFoReC Newsletter) to the Committee members in each month about the most recent publications, conferences, projects, etc. related to restorative justice. Previuos News-mails can be downloaded from below:
***December 2008
***October 2008
***March 2008
***December 2007
***October 2007
***August 2007
***May 2007
***March 2007
***February 2007/2
***February 2007
***December 2006
***July 2006
***June 2006/2
***June 2006/1
***May 2006
***March 2006
***February 2006
***January 2006/2
***January 2006/1
***December 2005
***November 2005

Coordination of an AGIS project focusing on implementing restorative justice in Central and Eastern European countries (July 2004 – December 2005)

The general objective of the project was to realise an effective support to the development of restorative justice in Central and Eastern European countries under the coordination of the European Forum for Restorative Justice.

The specific objectives of the project were:
- to study, at the conceptual and practical level, what the possibilities are for implementing restorative justice in CEE given their specific political, economical, cultural and legal background.
- to discuss how the experience in Western European countries can inform and support the development of restorative justice in CEE.
- to prepare strategies for promoting the development of an integrated policy concerning restorative justice in CEE.
- to actively work towards creating dynamics for exchange and co-operation (networking) between CEE in this field.
- to discuss what Western European countries can learn from the developments in criminal justice in CEE.
- to study what can be learned from the previous points in terms of policy development concerning restorative justice at the level of the European Union.

The project was funded by the AGIS Programme of the European Commission's Directorate General for Justice and Home Affairs (Reference No: JAI/2003/AGIS/088).

As junior reseacher my work included the organisation of two expert meetings and two seminars involving almost 100 experts who represented 27 countries from all the regions of Europe. I was also responsible to write the final report of the project, which brings together the information collected during the two years, analyses it and includes recommendations. with an up-to-date theoretical, conceptual and practical overview of the project’s main issues.

Individual PhD research on the opportunities for implementing restorative justice into the Hungarian institutional system dealing with child- and juvenile offenders (from September 2002)

I am doing my PhD research at the Department of Social Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences, ELTE University under the supervision of Dr. Mária Herczog, sociologist. My co-promoter is Prof. Lode Walgrave from the Department of Criminology and Criminal Law at the Catholic University of Leuven.

The study has several purposes. Firstly, it intends to give an overview about the legal and institutional reasons and possibilities for implementing restorative justice in the field of child- and juvenile delinquency. Secondly, it would emphasise the main underlying issues which might serve as the societal background for our current situation in the field of delinquency, the functioning of the social and criminal justice institutions and the expected challenges of introducing initiatives based on restorative principles.
However, besides this institutional approach, the “human” aspects should also be considered while planning any implementation processes. In other words, we need to know, who will actually realise the newly formalised initiatives, what do they think about it beforehand, what are their motivations and what are their concerns in integrating restorative elements into their work. Hence, my third goal is to investigate the main attitudes of professionals dealing with young offenders towards the implementation of restorative justice.
Needless to say, the fourth goal is to provide recommendations for successfully achieving the implementation purposes. However, whatever will be concluded, it will be based on the main hypothesis of this study, i.e. in order to successfully implement restorative justice in Hungary, both the institutional and the human factors have to be considered.

The research proposal can be downloaded from here.

'Attitudes of offenders towards restoration' – survey in English prisoners (October 2003 – June 2004)

Within the framework of my MPhil studies in Criminology at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge (UK), I have conducted a self-administered survey in HM Prison Winchester and in HM Prison Bedford (UK) with sixty–nine prisoners about their attitudes towards meeting their victims and restoration.

The survey intended to investigate the following four dimensions: 1) morality - moral reasoning; 2) the use of neutralisation techniques; 3) the shame feelings and the 4) social bonds of offenders. Special focus was put on the relevance of these dimensions in offenders' social reintegration process and the possible impact of restorative justice on them.

The theoretical basis of the survey can be read in my Master Thesis that I wrote at the University of Cambridge. Unfortunately up until now I haven't found the time to summarise the results of the survey, but I hope to prepare the analysis soon.

Hungarian representative in the Management Committee of the COST Action A21 (from November 2002)

Founded in 1971, COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Co-operation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research, allowing the co-ordination of nationally funded research on a European level.

COST Action A21 on 'Restorative Justice Developments in Europe' concerns a European network of researchers from some 20 countries, which was started late 2002 and which will run until the end of 2006.

Within the Action’s working group focusing on policy-related issues of implementing restorative justice I am responsible for conducting a research about the training system available in European countries for legal practitioners in the field of restorative justice.
The questionnaire of the survey is available here.
A preliminary summary of the research can be downloaded from here.

National representative research on the status of ‘Rights of Students with Disadvantageous Background in the Public Education System' (from November 2002)

This study was requested by the Commissioner for Educational Rights at the Ministry of Education. The project was implemented within the framework of the Kurt Lewin Foundation. The leader of the research project was Dr. György Ligeti, sociologist.

As research co-ordinator, my main tasks were organising the conduction of 1466 face-to-face questionnaires, approx. 100 semi-structured interviews (mostly done by students from the Social Science Faculty of the ELTE University) and the two 5-days long field work in two Hungarian towns. Together with György Ligeti I was also participating in writing the final report.

The research study is available from the website of the Kurt Lewin Foundation here.

'Restorative justice possibilities in the treatment of the criminality’ (from September 2002)

Within this project we organised two workshops for the criminal justice professionals in order to point out the barriers of spreading restorative justice approach.
This study is financed by the Hungarian Research Fund 'OTKA' (Reference No: T 037854). The project leader is Dr. Klára Kerezsi, criminologist of the National Institute of Criminology.

Action research on 'Conflict Resolution Face to Face' in a high-school context (September 2001 – September 2002 )

This course was the first pilot programme in Hungary that applied the restorative method and techniques within school context. The project was done within the framework of the Family, Child, Youth Association with the partnership of the 'Zöld Kakas' High School that is specialised for dropped-out students aged between 15 and 26. With two other colleagues, Ms. Eszter Balogh (sociologist) and Dr. Éva Győrfi (lawyer) we were responsible for preparing the course structure, teaching, facilitating conferences in the school and writing the evaluation of the project.

The evaluation of the project is available here and an overview in English can be found here.

Attitudes towards the severity of punishment and victim-offender mediation (October 2000 - March 2001)

This survey measured the attitudes of sociological, social policy, social worker and criminology students, and of professionals working in the field of child and youth offenders. The study was part of an international comparative research project coordinated by the University of Cologne. I did the data-collection and analysis with Ms.Eszter Balogh (sociologist). The final summary of the research can be read in my Master Thesis written for the ELTE University.

Rights of high-school students (September 2000 - June 2001)

This national sociological research was requested by the Commissioner for Educational Rights at the Ministry of Education. The project was implemented within the framework of the Kurt Lewin Foundation. The leader of the research project was Dr. György Ligeti, sociologist. As member of the research team, I participated in the conduction of 1460 questionnaires, and approx. 100 semi-structured interviews.

The research study is available from the website of the Kurt Lewin Foundation here.

International research project studying the habits of permanent drug-users and their awareness of the main health issues concerning drug using (June 1999 – October 1999)

This survey investigated the general knowledge of permanent drug-users about health issues and evaluated the international AIDS-preventing 'Needle Exchange Programme'. I participated in this survey as interviewer.

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