How to increase participation in a conflict resolution process: Insights from discursive psychology

2018-06-26T11:21:59Z (GMT) by Elizabeth Stokoe
In this chapter, I will explore the mediation of neighbour and family conflicts through the lens of discursive psychology, focusing particularly on what interaction between mediators and their prospective clients (neighbours, parents) tells us about the nature of dispute and the efficacy of mediation. I will describe a research project, from its inception studying neighbour disputes to its culmination in training mediators to better engage prospective mediation clients. The chapter will start by locating this project in the wider fields of mediation, neighbour and family disputes, as well as discursive and interactional work on conflict in interaction. I will describe the collection of large-scale qualitative datasets, including telephone calls to mediation services, environmental health services, and police interviews with arrested suspects in neighbour and family conflict cases. These data were analysed using conversation analysis, in the discursive psychological tradition pioneered by Edwards (e.g., 2005) and Potter (e.g., Potter & Hepburn, 2007). I will show how mediators fail and succeed to attract potential clients to mediation, and how small changes to the way mediation is explained, and how resistant clients may be persuaded to mediate, can be identified by the analysis of interaction. Finally, I describe how research findings about what works to engage clients has underpinned national and international mediation training, using the Conversation Analytic Role-play Method. In sum, the chapter will show how discursive psychological research can have big pay-offs in terms of the impact of its findings in real life settings that matter for people in conflict.