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Abstract

An emergent priority in the field of transitional justice is gathering and analyzing empirical data to advance understanding of violent conflicts and responses to the transgressions committed during such events. A major segment of this research focuses on countries, policies, processes, and institutions as the units of observation. Among the limitations of such research, however, is the lack of direct, in-depth attention to relevant individual actors and their roles in these settings. Our article highlights a methodological approach that captures this perspective: surveys. Over recent years, scholars, NGOs, international organizations, and justice institutions have completed surveys of various scales with an assortment of populations, including those implicated in and/or exposed to violent conflict. Such surveys help to illuminate the circumstances and repercussions of conflict for individuals and their families and communities, their expectations about transitional justice, their assessments of contemplated and actual policies, processes and institutions, and the resulting impact on their attitudes, agency, and actions. In the process, these empirical data present a distinctive lens that we argue is integral to appreciating moral and pragmatic motivations for transitional justice, gauging responsiveness to the needs and interests of key constituencies, and evaluating consequences. We reflect on the merits, shortcomings, mechanics, challenges, and trade-offs of conducting surveys related to transitional justice in conflicted-affected societies. As part of the discussion, we cite examples of key studies from countries around the world, drawing on our own significant first-hand experience as well as research carried out by others.

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.5206/tjr.2016.1.4.6


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