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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

From Blamescaping to Hope: How Mediators Help Clients Cooperate toward Mutual Resolution of Disputes
by Sukovaty, Beckey D., Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2018, 351; 10791122
Abstract (Summary)

Mediation offers an increasingly popular way for disputing parties to work together toward resolving their conflicts, yet there are few studies of the actual voiced interactions between mediation parties and experienced mediators. This research project studied 10 face-to-face interpersonal mediation sessions involving 34 participants. The study provides in-depth and multidimensional understanding of how experienced mediators assist disputing parties in refraining from or moving beyond the futility of blamescaping, toward cooperating on mutually acceptable resolution of their conflicts. (Blamescaping refers to verbal blaming behaviors, including accusations in the form of scapegoating.)

Findings from initial data analysis, employing the Voice-Centered Relational method’s Listening Guide, showed that experienced mediators were able to help disputing parties by interceding and interposing in a variety of co-implicated ways related to the form, process, and content of mediation discourse. These ways emerged as strong patterns, and include cooperation coaching, encouraging short opening statements, interrupting blamescaping, supporting focus on the future rather than the past, mutualizing statements, avoiding criticism of the parties, frequent use of questions, and parties echoing mediators. Through a second level of in-depth data analysis and interpretation, those patterns of interpositions and intercessions were found to be consistent with each of three conceptual lenses: René Girard’s mimetic theory of conflict, genre analysis in conflict resolution, and narrative mediation praxis.

Implications of how the research findings can serve as a resource for conflict resolution practitioners, mediator training and continuing education, and applied mediation ethics are discussed. Recommendations for ways the mediation profession can support additional research, along with suggestions for future research studies, also are provided.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nelson, Annabelle L.
Commitee: Cloke, Kenneth, Guilarte, Miguel G., Johnson-Riley, Jenny, Steier, Frederick
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: Human and Organization Development
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Communication, Peace Studies
Keywords: Applied ethics, Blaming and scapegoating, Conflict and dispute resolution, Cooperation and mutuality, Mediation research, Voice-centered relational (VCR) method Listening Guide
Publication Number: 10791122
ISBN: 978-0-355-86246-1
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