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Divide to Unite: the Tools Used by Dispute Mediators to Make Division Explicit

Additional information

van Bijnen E., Greco S.
Report in scientific conference
In dispute mediation, mediators attempt to create common ground by, for instance, pointing to the unity between the disputing parties in order to (ideally) lead them to a win-win resolution by means of interventions. However, mediators also make the division between parties explicit. In this paper, we demonstrate the importance of indicating oppositeness and making the disagreement salient. As part of conflict analysis it is important to note that mediators need to stress the disagreement strategically, since emphasizing division could be seen as counterintuitive and jeopardizing the development of common ground and the resolution of the dispute. To elucidate with what functions mediators introduce separateness in the mediation dialogue, we will use the argumentation theory of strategic maneuvering (van Eemeren 2010), which incorporates rhetorical elements into the dialectical framework of pragma-dialectics. Using corpora of mediation simulations, we will elucidate the three aspects of strategic maneuvering in division interventions. In other words, we explicate how mediators select topics, adjustment their interventions to the audience demands of the intended addressee(s), and what presentational devices are used to make the interventions more effective. Mediators are demonstrated to, for example, present clear juxtapositions such as old vs new; or shown to point out differences without pointing a finger, by reformulating parties’ contributions that signal division by means of nominalization, by which they objectify the disagreement. Findings will be presented by means of examples of naturally occurring data.
Meeting name
The 6th “Rhetoric in Society Conference of the Rhetoric Society of Europe (RSE)
Meeting place
Norwich, England
Meeting date
July 3-5
Conflict Resolution, Mediation, Argumentation, Divisio, Strategic Maneuvering, Rhetoric