You are here: Home / Honorary doctorate professor John Braithwaite

Honorary doctorate professor John Braithwaite


Honorary doctorate professor John Braithwaite

BraithwaiteDownload programme (4 - 7 February)

Every year, K.U.Leuven confers honorary doctorates upon persons of exceptional academic, social, or cultural merit.  For 2008, the Academic Board has chosen the theme ‘Environment, Environmental Policy, and Sustainable Development.’

At the Patron's Feast of the K.U.Leuven on February 4, 2008, the following candidate honorary doctors will be distinguished: the Australian professor of criminology, John Braithwaite, the Dutch professor of epidemiology, Bert Brunekreef, and the French professor of marine biology, Daniël Pauly.

Professor John Braithwaite was born in Ipswich (Australia) in 1951, and is currently Research Council Federation Fellow atthe Australian National University. In 2001, Professor Braithwaite established Regnet (Regulatory Institutions Network), a worldwide network of institutions, practitioners, and academics researching the key domain of regulation with an eye toward human rights, justice, and sustainable environmental policy. Professor Braithwaite is universally considered one of the most renowned contemporary criminologists, partly due to his decisive role in the development of the right of redress. His powerful and striking theories and vision have positioned him as a world-leading social scientist. Further, by aiming at social justice, participative democracy, sustainable development, and world peace, he has characteristically put his scientific engagement at the service of an ethical vision of humanity and society.


John Braithwaite is universally known as “the most renowned criminologist of our times” and the source of inspiration for a “vigorous social movement… on its way far beyond the borders of criminology” (Karstedt, 2005). As a social scientist, he belongs to the top rankings.  In particular, his theoretic strengths and vision stand out.  (He puts forward his scientific commitment for the purpose of an ethical vision of people and society, focusing on social justice, participatory democracy, sustainable development, and world peace.)

John Braithwaite was born in Ipswich, Australia in 1951 and obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology in 1977 at the University of Queensland.  He is currently a Research Council Federation Fellow and is the founder of the Regulatory Institutions Network, Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. John Braithwaite has received just about all the conceivable prizes, distinctions and awards possible for him to attain.  Twenty eight awards are mentioned on his curriculum vitae, attributed in Australia, Europe, the United States, and at various international organisations.  Some of these achievements worth mentioning include the 2004 “Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order” ($200.000) (together with P. Drahos); the “Prix Emile Durkheim” in 2005, the most important prize from the International Society for Criminology, awarded every four years; and the 2006 “Stockholm Prize in Criminology.”  This 2006 award is a collaboration among the International Society for Criminology, the American Society for Criminology and the Swedish government, and is deemed as a derivative of the Nobel Prize (Sherman & Lee 2007). Together with Lösel, Braithaite was the first to receive this prize, an indication of how high his work has been recognized internationally.  A study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice (1999) concluded that in the 1990’s Braithwaite was “the most cited scholar” in international criminological journals. Furthermore, the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice (2001) found he was the most cited author on the level of white-collar crime.

Braithwaite’s “publication career” began in 1975. His broad interest for all aspects of criminality emerged at this time, with an ethically steered discretion.  He established a reputation internationally with publications about corporate crime, corruption and business regulation.  Braithwaite’s great breakthrough was his work Crime, Shame and Reintegration (1989, Cambridge University Press). Reintegrative shaming was presented as an extremely powerful mechanism in socialisation, criminal prevention and as a response to crime. Disintegrative shaming, on the contrary, was imagined to lead to stigmatisation and subsequent deviance. The significance of the theory is that the existing patrimony of criminological theories is supplemented with the emotional and moral dimensions of criminality and the fight against it. An encouraging book review named Braithwaite “the new Durkheim” (Scheff 1990). Crime, Shame and Reintegration has profoundly influenced criminology. Since the publication emerged, it has often been cited, commented on and used, and a great deal of criminological research now contains the theory of reintegrative shaming.

In 1990, John Braithwaite, together with Philip Pettit, published Not Just Deserts. A Republican Theory of Criminal Justice (Clarendon Press).  In this work, an argument emerged from a coherent political vision that fought for criminal law to be more participatory, under a presumption that deserts the punishment and instead focuses on guarding the dominion. The dominion concept can be regarded as the devolution from powers from the central to the regional government in a political theory.  Involved in this concept is the ‘objective’ elements from the rights and liberties, but also the subjective element of the security that the others and the government will respect these rights and liberties. Different from a liberal vision, the freedom in the dominion is mutual, because we are dependant on each other to practice and extend these rights and freedoms.  Not Just Deserts is of extreme importance because it is an inspiring new criminal law theory, existing in a republican society.

Both aforementioned works have contributed to the development of restorative justice in a crucial way.  In the last ten to twenty years, this vision has grown to be one of the most innovative domains of research and experimentation in criminology.  Originally, reintegrative shaming was the most important theoretical source of inspiration for the development of restorative practices worldwide.  Presently, the central place of shaming has been put into perspective, but the moral-emotional approach of how crimes are dealt with remains crucial.  The republican theory of criminal justice of one of the foundations in the search for an adequate legal and judicial framework of restorative practices.

A third milestone-publication is Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation (Oxford University Press) from 2002.  Braithwaite demonstrated the frequent stratification of restorative justice, from a moral-emotional micro social occurrence to a staatstheorie on a macro level. Furthermore, he researched the possibilities to start the principles of restorative justice and of responsive regulation on a much broader domain than simply focusing on the reaction of crimes. This work marked a new turn that was already evolving for some time in the ideas of John Braithwaite.

Gradually, Braithwaite stepped outside the boundaries of criminology, returning to his broader basic principles.  He began to focus increasingly more on all forms of regulation, concentrating specifically on social justices and more participatory and sustainably developed societies.  The much praised Global Business Regulation (2000, Cambridge University Press, together with P. Drahos) researched which “weapons of the weak” were available to attain more ecological and social sustainable development. The book Information Feudalism (2002, Earthscan, together with P. Drahos) demonstrates how unrestrained capitalism forms the fundamental threat for sustainable and peaceful development. Markets in Vice, Markets in Virtue (2005, Oxford University Press) examined and subsequently rejected the possibility for states and multinationals to provide for the economies in developing countries via the taxation system. Their views are now employed in Indonesia and Timor.

Three initiatives in particular receiving special attention:

  • In 2001, Braithwaite established Regnet (Regulatory Institutions Network), a worldwide network of institutions, practitioners, and academics who are involved in research of the critical domains of regulation.  The purpose is to conduct “Research at the highest international standards on regulation that also makes local contributions to good governance”…“to undertake regulatory research that promotes social justice, fairness, human rights and freedoms, and efficient, ecologically sustainable development…” ( In 2004, an international search described Regnet as “the most dynamic and productive group of sociolegal scholars in the world today… The collection of researchers is unparalleled, as is the high quality of scholarship.”
  • Braithwaite’s large scale project “Peace-building and Responsive Governance,” carried out in collaboration with three other co-promoters, aimed to obtain insight into the governance of peace-building in society that deals with armed conflict.  The theory of restorative justice and responsive regulation serves as a basic principle for a specific collection of data regarding the manner in which armed conflict may cease, when there is no support from the United Nations.  The extremely ambitious project includes 48 peace-building case studies throughout the whole world and is spread out over twenty years.  At the moment, financing is ensured for the first five years.  Fieldwork began in 2006, in Indonesia and the Pacific.  The work in Europe (especially in the Balkans) has been planned to begin in 2010 or 2011.
  • Since March 2007, John Braithwaite has been the co-editor of a new international scientific journal that has been published, Regulation and Governance.

Criminology without John Braithwaite would be much different, but his impact extends even further than simply within this field. Braithwaite is currently one of the strongest leaders participating in the engagement of the social sciences in the movement for socially sustainable development via more participatory democracy, more social justice, and more security and peace. He couples scientific top quality with social-ethical movement and was able to give form to it through inspirational leadership.  His high ambitions, as it appears from his writings and from, for example, the project Peace-building and Responsive Governance, are characterized by a modest and affable character, with great sincerity for the routine issues and limitations.