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Social justice and mediation

A. Leah Wing, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study examines how racial oppression is challenged and reconstituted through the narrative process of a mediation. Qualitative research methods are used to identify, describe and analyze themes in the mediation discourse and the narrative strategies employed by the participants, mediators, and coordinator in this case study. Each person in this multi-racial and multi-ethnic group is interviewed twice and their interpretations are used in both the data collection and data analysis phases. In this way, this research project responds to a gap in the literature by including the voices and insights of the mediation service providers and participants in the research process. The theoretical foundations of this study are based in several literatures: mediation scholarship, social justice literature, critical race theory, and narrative theory. The findings are analyzed using narrative theory and interrogated from a critical race perspective. They demonstrate that the use of narrative strategies based on the U.S. mediation field's core values of neutrality and symmetry result in the reconstitution of racial oppression in this mediation. The narrative analysis reveals that the story of the negative racialization of one of the participants is underconstructed and that the stories about rules told during the mediation are fully elaborated upon and serve as the basis for the agreement. The analysis from a critical race perspective offers that the colorblind grand narrative of rules in society provides cultural resonance for the stories of rules and for the narrative strategies based in neutrality and symmetry; however, not for the story of negative racialization. The cumulative effect is the domination by the rules stories of the story of negative racialization. This domination is only briefly challenged through several strategies periodically employed by a participant of color and a mediator of color. The results are that racial oppression is perpetuated both procedurally and substantively in this case. It is hoped that this study will stimulate further research on how racial oppression can manifest in mediation as well as encouraging the exploration of new strategies for narrative facilitation to prevent this from occurring.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Law|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Wing, A. Leah, "Social justice and mediation" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056290.