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The devil and the deep blue sea?: a critique of the ability of community mediation to suppress and facilitate participation in civil life

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This article revisits debate between academics and practitioners about the potential of community mediation. While mediation evangelicals make bold claims about the possibility of mediation helping to rebuild communities, academic critics have been suspicious of such contentions and claimed instead that mediation has provided just another route through which the state can interfere in the life of its citizens. It is argued here that debate on the topic has been clouded by unduly high expectations of disputes as agents of social change. Their importance has been understood by reference to their ability to rebuild communities or their potential to become test cases. It is argued here that mediated disputes make much more modest challenges to state authority but that they can be aided in this by the intervention of mediators prepared to take a pragmatic approach to the unachievable ideal of neutrality. The article does not conceive of community mediation as an alternative of the state or its agent. Rather, it suggests that mediators can be embedded within both worlds and act as message-bearers between them.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26595/

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