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Meaningless gestures or pathway to healing and reconciliation? Comparing the perspectives on political apologies in victim and non‐victim communities in El Salvador, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom

Sagherian‐Dickey, Thia and Schaafsma, Juliette and Zoodsma, Marieke and Cho, Ha Jung and Dinnick, Iwan and Kim, Jimin and Noor, Masi and Turner, Rhiannon N. and Yáñez de la Cruz, María Sol (2022) 'Meaningless gestures or pathway to healing and reconciliation? Comparing the perspectives on political apologies in victim and non‐victim communities in El Salvador, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.', British Journal of Social Psychology .

Abstract

Political apologies have been theorized to play an important role in healing and reconciliation processes in post-conflict settings. Whether they actually fulfil this function, however, remains unclear as the voices and perspectives of victim communities have largely been underrepresented in research. To address this, we examined the role of apologies that were offered for the El Mozote massacre (El Salvador), the Jeju 4.3 massacres (Republic of Korea) and Bloody Sunday (United Kingdom), according to members of these communities and the broader public. Although we anticipated that victim community members should find the apology more valuable and meaningful and should, therefore, be more positive about its role in healing and reconciliation processes, we found that this varies across countries. This variation could be explained by people's trust in the country's institutions. Across the samples, we found that the apology was seen as a relatively important gesture. For the apology to be perceived as impactful, however, it had to be seen as a meaningful (i.e. sincere) gesture. Our findings suggest that apologies have a role to play in the aftermath of human rights violations, but that it is essential to take the broader context into account.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12556
Publisher statement:This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Date accepted:14 June 2022
Date deposited:26 July 2022
Date of first online publication:01 July 2022
Date first made open access:02 September 2022

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