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Mediation in a conflict society: an ethnographic view on mediation processes in Israel

Ronnen, Edite (2011) Mediation in a conflict society: an ethnographic view on mediation processes in Israel. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis addresses the question: how do individuals in a conflict society engage in peaceful dispute resolution through mediation? It provides a close look at Israeli society, in which people face daily conflicts. These include confrontations on many levels: the national, such as wars and terror attacks; the social, such as ethnic, religious and economic tensions; and the personal level, whereby the number of lawyers and legal claims per capita are among the highest in the world. The magnitude, pervasiveness, and often existential nature of these conflicts have led sociologists to label Israel a ‘conflict society’.   Mediation practice came into this society and challenged the existing ethos and norms by proposing a discourse of dialogue and cooperation. The thesis focuses on the meeting point that mediation engenders between narratives of conflict, which have developed in this environment, and the mediation processes, which set out to achieve a collaborative discourse and mutual recognition.   The fieldwork, forming the core of the thesis, consists of the observation of supervised mediation processes of civil disputes in two leading mediation centres, and interviews with professionals and key figures in the discipline. The wide variety of voices of a broad range of interviewees and many different parties provide for rich, qualitative data.   The use of the narrative‐ethnographic approach in observing mediation processes helps identify key themes in participantsʹ  narratives. The subsequent analysis leads to the insight that these mediation processes reflect, in a subtle way, the narratives, beliefs and needs of individuals in a conflict society. The findings from this study indicate that perceptions of life in a conflict society are clearly manifested through mediation processes. These place obstacles and inhibit the attainment of agreements. Yet, surprisingly, some of the findings also demonstrate an aversion to conflict and a well‐expressed desire to maintain communication and to achieve peaceful resolution.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Edite Ronnen
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Roberts, Simon

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