Date of Award

Spring 4-5-2024

Degree Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management

Department

School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Jesse Benjamin, PhD

Second Advisor

Roslyn Satchel, PhD

Third Advisor

D.G. Mawn, Esq.

Abstract

Community Mediation emerged in the U.S. after 1964 and rose as an alternative to a formalized justice system. However, throughout its 60-year history, Community Mediation has been characterized as more “institutionalized and has undergone various degrees of co-optation in its evolving relationship with the court system,” (Coy & Hedeen, 2005, 405). This is a qualitative exploration of the impact of justice system co-optation on the field of Community Mediation and the function, sustainability, and regenerative growth potential of Community Mediation Centers (CMCs) and other mediation service providers. The researcher examines the knowledge and power sources of Court-Connected Mediation including funding and referral sources using decolonization theory and practical intercultural approaches. Structural violence theory explores the relationship of violence and injustice between Community Mediation and government co-optation using judicial-based resources. Conflict prevention theory considers actual and potential impact on Community Mediation services, and intercultural communities' access to community-based preventative Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods to address conflict without violence before it reaches the judicial system. A decolonial framework is developed for historicizing, theorizing, and transforming mediation into a re-envisioned community-based resource. Through chronicled comprehensive history of Community Mediation in the U.S. and a decolonized lens on the justice system’s impact on community-based mediation, this dissertation re-envisions Community Mediation and Court-Connection Mediation in the U.S. This research asks whose knowledge and power influences community-based mediation service providers and how this has impacted their function and service communities over time. The study reveals that a resource-dependent relationship with the justice system stabilizes resources and sustains CMCs, simultaneously increasing CMCs court-based services, limiting CMCs power, and creating barriers for regenerative growth. The proponents of a systemic approach to Court-Connected Mediation are controllers of violence through power over people and proponents of a non-systemic approach to Community Mediation are controllers of violence through power with people.

Available for download on Friday, October 31, 2025

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