Transformative Theory of Justice

Abstract: [This abstract comes from my work Transformative Theory in Transitional and Criminal Justice.] This paper examines the origin and the applicability of transformative theory of justice in the area of transitional justice and criminal justice. First, it distinguishes transformative theory as a normative theory derived from the concept of democratization; and as an empirical grounded theory derived from the perception about former adversaries. Second, it focuses on the latter and contrasts the theory to other theories, namely retributive, procedural and restorative theories of justice. Third, it considers cross-cultural applicability of the theory in Western and Asian societies. The paper is a theoretical reflection of empirical research conducted in Eastern Europe, South Africa, South Korea and other countries.

Bio: Roman David is a professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. His experience of a communist regime and its collapse shaped his interest in the study of democracy and totalitarianism, transitional justice and political cultures of hybrid regimes. He is the author of Lustration and Transitional Justice(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), which conceptualizes exclusive, inclusive and reconciliatory personnel systems and which received the Concept Analysis Award by IPSA in 2012. In Communists and Their Victims (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), he used surveys, survey experiments and qualitative methods to examine the impact of justice on victims, perpetrators and society; and developed a transformative theory of justice. In Liberalism and Democracy in Myanmar(Oxford University Press, 2018, with I. Holliday), he proposed the concept of limited liberalism to explain various puzzles of political culture in democratizing countries. His major articles appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Political Psychology, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and other indexed journals. He can be contacted at