Neutrality and Power Distribution in Chinese Mediation: Discourse Analysis on Some Contemporary Chinese Mediation Strategies Based on Real Mediation Sessions
Committee ChairHarwood, Jake
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe study aims to discover the strategies and techniques used by community mediators in the People's Republic of China. Previous research argues that mediator legitimacy in China draws on state authorization and the mediator's community standing. In contrast to Western conceptions of the mediator's role as a neutral facilitator of dispute resolution, research suggests that Chinese mediators openly speak on behalf of community norms, calling on disputants to subordinate personal preferences in the interest of maintaining harmonious relationships and governmental policies and legal regulations. The legitimacy of the mediation process depends more on a persuasive articulation of community norms than an impression of mediator neutrality. However, this account of Chinese mediation has been based solely on interview and questionnaire data. How (and whether) this contrast between self-report measures and mediation techniques in practice actually manifests itself in mediator discourse, at what stages, and to what degree has not really been observed or analyzed. This study records and analyzes community mediation cases to better understand what features are prevalent in mediation discourse. Cases were selected in both rural and urban areas. Discourse analysis is applied to transcripts so as to provide direct and detailed picture of how mediation is conducted in reality. Strategies typical of Chinese mediation, relative to American mediation are identified and illustrated with excerpts from the transcripts. Neutrality and power distribution are discussed and compared with their roles in American mediation. Their implications for political, social and cultural aspects are drawn to provide a glimpse of contemporary Chinese society and how resolution is created. Future research directions are pointed out with regard to mediator's gender difference, the location where the mediation happens (urban and rural) and the socio-economic class of disputants (e.g., migrant workers) involved in the mediation.