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Home > Country profiles > UK (Scotland) > Articles > Article detail

Mediation's Values: Still Searching

Sunday, 19th August 2019

I begin with an apologia. Since “each of us, of necessity, must encounter the world from some perspective or other” (Burr, V, An Introduction to Social Constructionism London: Routledge 1995, p.160) I should acknowledge mine: this dissertation is the work of a 48-year-old, white, married, Scottish father-of-two. I cannot claim objectivity for my view. It is therefore helpful to set this exploration as a story: the story of one person’s encounter with other people’s conflict, and the journey on which that has propelled me.

When I first received mediation training I had no experience of the social sciences, therapeutic or family work. Instead I brought a law degree, ten years in the music industry and a brief but intense involvement with evangelical religion. This background could reveal a quest for objective truth: law and religion both stake strong claims to being sources of values, while the music industry is an archetype of individualist capitalism, its highest values being money, fame and self-actualisation.

My first family mediation post was as an “intake worker”, meeting individual parents to assess whether mediation was appropriate. The initial impact of hearing two sides of conflict stories was shock and wonder: how could two people see the same events so differently? However, as time passed I became accustomed to these competing truth claims. I began to say, to anyone who would listen, that the concept of truth was no longer “useful” for me. I am not claiming any originality for this position, which is roughly that of postmodernist thought (Willig, C, Introducing Qualitative Research in Psychology: Adventures in Theory and Method Buckingham: Open University Press, 2001). Its significance lies in the fact that exposure to other people‟s conflict led me there."

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Source: University of Strathclyde
Language: English
Contact: Charlie Irvine

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