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Scolding “Brothers” and Caring “Friends”: Discursive Construction of the Identity of Mediation Helpers in China

  • Youping XuEmail author
Article
  • 54 Downloads

Abstract

Despite the increasing popularity of the call for specialized and professionalized mediators worldwide, the importance of mediation helpers who are non-mediators but invited to assist the mediation in China can never be underestimated. Different from the western style of co-mediation that involves two or more mediators, China has the tradition to invite mediation helpers such as family members, neighbors, friends and working unit leaders, to help the mediator settle disputes for parties. Nowadays, in one innovative form of people’s mediation, TV mediation, warm-hearted people who are unfamiliar with the parties are also invited to be mediation helpers. This paper, based on the socio-cultural linguistic framework of identity proposed by Bucholtz and Hall (Discourse Stud 7(4–5):585–614, 2005), intends to analyze how “stranger” mediation helpers discursively construct their identities as scolding “brothers” and caring “friends” in China’s TV mediation. The data used in this paper consists of transcripts of 10 episodes of TV mediation programs on divorce disputes in China. Data analysis shows that unlike the mediator who is supposed to be neutral, mediation helpers often align/disalign themselves with parties, discursively construct such an identity as scolding “elder brothers” and caring “friends”, and achieve additional favorable effects that would otherwise be normally impossible by the neutral mediator. This paper concludes that due to the socio-cultural traditions in China, this seemingly peculiar phenomenon to the west is actually an innovation of mediation and is the very secret that makes mediation in China vigorous and effective.

Keywords

Mediation helpers Identity Alignment Indexicality Dispute resolution 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper is part of the philosophy and social science research programs in Guangdong Province (GD14YWW03, 2016WTSCX029). I’m deeply indebted to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. My sincere thanks also go to co-editors of this issue, Prof. Anne Wagner and Prof. Aleksandra Matulewska, for their valuable advice and kind support in the writing of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangdong University of Foreign StudiesGuangzhouChina

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