When looking for a general definition of mediation or mediators, one usually finds something along the lines of: mediators are neutral third parties who procedurally guide the discussion in order to help the parties in conflict find a win-win resolution to their dispute. With this poster, I will present the idea that in order to achieve this successful resolution of a conflict that is in deadlock, mediators make two elements of the opening stage of a critical discussion, which normally remain implicit/usually remain implicit in other contexts, explicit, namely the procedural rules and the material starting points. This poster will especially focus on how mediators establish and re-establish the procedural rules and material starting points in mediation in labor disputes in order to create a favorable context for the argumentative discussion. This project highlights the notion that “all argumentative deliberation occurs within some socio-historical context”, and considers the idea that “all reasoning is reasoning in context” (van Eemeren et al. 1993) particularly important in the case of mediation. I will show how the parties’ common ground reflects this context, and may show why a dispute in mediation is more solvable or less solvable after interventions by the mediator that make the procedural rules or material starting points explicit. In that sense, in mediation, context is not static but constantly under negotiation and altered by means of the interventions made by the mediator and the contributions of the parties in conflict. In short: in order for the mediator’s text to create a context in which resolution is achievable, mediators make the context (whether procedural or material) in which the text is created explicit. Exactly how mediators (re-)establish this context in which they are able to find enough common ground for a fruitful argumentative discussion will be presented by means of two elaborated examples. One example will be of an intervention in which the mediator argues for the mediation procedure and one example will show how the mediator tries to establish common ground by eliciting new material starting points.
Conflict Resolution, Mediation, Argumentation, Common Ground, Context