Party Autonomy as a Discursive Practice

Respect for party autonomy is one of the hallowed principles of mediation, yet one that often perplexes mediators in actual practice. What is party autonomy? Why does it matter in mediation? What is the mediator’s responsibility for party autonomy? How does a mediator know a party is demonstrating autonomy? How can a mediator help – or hinder – the development and expression of party autonomy?

This program treats party autonomy as discursive practice --- as a communication phenomenon that is constructed, displayed, and transformed in ongoing interaction. After a brief introduction to the basic principles of party autonomy, the focus of the program will be on markers of party autonomy that can be identified in the course of interaction in a mediation session. Participants will pay special attention to identifying markers of “shifts” in party communication, and also to the nature of communication practices by the mediator that can help – or hinder -- the development and expression of party autonomy. Illustrations will be provided from research, video, and actual transcripts. There will be ample time for questions, discussion and participation.


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