A Feminist Philosophical Critique of Domestic Mediation (ADR) Practices in the United States: Realizing Mary Parker Follett's Theory of Empowerment
Sukovaty, Beckey D.
This thesis identifies four major problems facing the Altemative Dispute Resolution profession-especially domestic mediation-and proposes constructive solutions using ADR pioneer and feminist-pragmatist philosopher Mary Parker Follett's work. I argue these problems are grounded in a conception of persons as independent and radically autonomous, rather than interdependent and embedded in social communities. Mediators often justify professional expansion by claiming mediation is more empowering than other ADR methods. However, absent a well-developed theory of interdependence, mediation perpetuates the power of negative socioeconomic forces over clients, furthering oppression not empowerment. Central to Follett's theory is a conception of power consistent with the idea that persons are interdependent. Effective domestic mediation reform could be achieved using Follett's theory, which demonstrates how ostensibly individual matters leading to "private" conflicts are inseparable from social circumstances and public concerns. I conclude with several solutions based on this alternative conception that help rectify current ADR problems.