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Conversational practices and distributed agency in mediation

The research project examines the interactional means that mediators and disputants use to handle and reconciliate conflicts through conversation.

Dispute mediation is an alternative means of conflict resolution that is based on mediators facilitating conversation between the parties involved in a conflict. This project examines mediation in criminal and civil cases with the methods of linguistic and interactional research. The project aims at increasing our understanding of the conversational practices in mediation, in particular, of how the disputants’ conversational actions are built with the support of the mediators. The mediators’ actions contribute to shaping the way the disputants talk. The study regards this phenomenon as an example of the distribution of discursive agency. By taking this viewpoint, the study aims at developing the description of conversational practices in handling and reconciliating conflicts, and at scrutinizing the social and interactional foundations of these practices.

The research is funded by the Kone Foundation.

We video record authentic mediation sessions and analyze them using the methods of conversation analysis and interactional linguistics. The data is handled confidentially and in a pseudonymized form, meaning, for example, that it will not be possible to identify individual participants directly based on the research publications. The project will offer the results of the study to be applied in the development of mediation services in collaboration with stakeholders in the field of mediation.

Researcher: Katariina Harjunpää