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Closure Narratives

  • Initial action: Usually a violent crime, most often murder.
  • Key features: Crime is portrayed as creating an emotional trauma. The family of a murder victim tends to be quoted directly and their statements will involve therapeutic language which suggests that punishment can start the ‘healing process’ or provide ‘closure’.
  • Narrative conclusion: The closure story can end in one of two ways; the victim’s family find closure, or they do not. The ‘no closure’ outcome will likely be associated with whether the punishment is sufficiently harsh.

Retribution Narratives

  • Initial action: Crime of any kind.
  • Key features: Story is unlikely to use victimhood stories of suffering. The retribution narrative is instead rational, non-emotional and reasoned. Punishment is depicted as proportional to the crime. In the retribution story, state actors (as opposed to the victims) will likely feature more heavily.
  • Narrative conclusion: Justice is achieved when punishment reflects the severity of the crime but the pains of punishment are not excessive. Punishment can be harsh but no pleasure is taken in the act of punishing.
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