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14 / 06 / 2004
Joseph P. Folger: mediation should go beyond resolving conflict

This professor at Temple University (Pennsylvania) emphasized the pedagogical value of mediation

Joseph P. Folger, professor at Temple University in Pennsylvania, USA, said that “mediations should go beyond resolving conflict and seek a qualitative change of the situation” during the talk he gave at the Dialogue “The Conflicts of Daily Life. Towards Creating Citizenship: The New Importance of Conflict and Peacefully Managing It” held this morning.

Together with J. Baruch, Folger developed the “transformation model for resolving conflicts.” He stated that “it is important to start mediation through simple interaction, as by doing this there is an awareness that it is possible to interact with the other party and it makes it possible to find mutually acknowledged spaces."

It is precisely this “recognition of the other” on which his theory is based. According to this theory “mediators should not force parties to reach an agreement, as this only leads to losing the transformational capacity of mediation.”

Folger gave several examples of the US in which the judges pressured mediators to reach a swift agreement and the cases are resolved without going to court. He stated that “these examples of mediation are only valid in terms of efficiency, but those involved do not learn anything—they will continue to have the same point of view and when they end up in some other conflict they will still not know how to resolve it.”

Folger, a doctor in communication from Wisconsin University, stated that "mediators need to make it easier for both parties to take on the risk of speaking about what they want” and “to reach a qualitative change of the situation.” According to Folger, education and reinforcement are the two basic objectives that should be reached through all mediation.”

Founder and collaborator of the Institute for Conflict Transformation studies, Folger stated that often the conflicts are not real and that the people involved look for other means to achieve recognition and acceptance, and insisted that this is why the emotional aspect of those involved must be closely looked at during all mediation.