Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2210-4119
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4127
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While mediation programs vary greatly in their procedures and philosophies, most programs expect the mediator to act as a neutral facilitator who empowers disputants to resolve the dispute themselves. Advice-giving by mediators is therefore typically not recommended. However, mediators often find ways to give advice, if only indirectly. In this paper I use conversation analytic techniques to examine how mediators give advice to disputants in videotaped mediation sessions between divorcing couples. I found that while mediators display an orientation to a norm of no advice-giving, they do often give advice. Advice is often formulated indirectly, for example as a suggestion rather than as prescriptive advice, or as general information rather than advice targeted to a specific individual. Mediators also often gave procedural rather than substantive advice. These findings are discussed in terms of how advice-giving can support or detract from the ability of mediators to empower mediation clients to resolve their own disputes.


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