The impact of culture and cultural difference on the mediation process
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis presents a conceptualisation of the impact of culture and cultural difference on the mediation process. The argument is structured according to Jacob Bercovitch's (1984, 1992, 1996) 'Contingency Model' of mediation which views mediation outcomes as contingent on the interaction between the dispute context (nature of the parties, issues, and mediator) and the mediation process. The conception of culture presented here is sourced from a wide variety of disciplines with special emphasis placed on ideas put forth by Kevin Avruch (1998) and Raymond Cohen (1990, 1993, 1996). Building on these conceptions, this thesis presents a more sophisticated and nuanced conceptualisation of culture as a phenomenon. This conception is then applied to each of the variables in Bercovitch's 'Contingency Model' to create a thorough and systematic understanding of the impact culture and cultural difference has on the mediation process. This approach is then tested for validity by its application to a case study: the Iranian - United States hostage crisis, 1979-1981 arid the successful Algerian mediation that occurred from November 1980 until the eventual release of the hostages on January 20th 1981. The conclusions drawn support the arguments advanced in the first part of the thesis, This thesis concludes by noting how it is a conceptualisation of the impact of culture and cultural difference on the mediation process, rather than a recipe for mediating between different cultures. Mediators are considered to require a comprehensive understanding of the actual cultures involved in the dispute; this thesis seeks to explain how those cultures may influence the context, process and outcome of mediation.