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Mediation through an intercultural communication lens

Mediation through an intercultural communication lens

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Siobhan Brownlie, University of Manchester

Keywords: intercultural communication, interculturality, cultural negotiation, family mediation, university mediation, intercultural mediation training

Abstract: The article examines intercultural communication theory for the purpose of considering to what extent this theory may be useful to mediation practitioners and researchers. Early theory associated with Edward T. Hall and Geert Hofstede, which posits cultural differences associated with national groups, has been very influential in intercultural training, including training for mediators. A second area of theorisation is prescriptive. This includes two very different but related approaches: theorisation about intercultural competence, and social justice approaches. The uses and drawbacks of Hofstedian and prescriptive approaches for mediators are considered. Two further intercultural communication theories are explored. ‘Small culture’, as theorized by Adrian Holliday, is about the developing norms and practices in a possibly ephemeral group. Intercultural discursive practice, of which a major exponent is Zhu Hua, comprises two key areas: examining how participants in an interaction ascribe cultural categories to one another, and how they negotiate cultural matters. It is proposed that ‘small culture’ and intercultural discursive approaches could be productive for culture-focused mediation researchers as well as useful for trainers and practitioners.

Author Biography: 

Dr Siobhan Brownlie is a lecturer in translation and intercultural studies at the University of Manchester where she is joint programme director of the Masters in Intercultural Communication. She is also a volunteer mediator in the university’s mediation service. Her recent research has focused on memory, mediation, intercultural relations and migration.

Publication Date:  16 June 2017

Brownlie, S. (2017). Mediation through an intercultural communication lens. Mediation Theory and Practice2(1), 34–53.

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