Individuals both within and outside the legal profession have been drawn by the ‘promise’ of mediation. In it they see a means for facilitating communicative exchanges between actors in conflict, which they view as a dramatic improvement on the adversarial practices of the formal legal system. However, despite the appeal of mediation to potential practitioners, there is not yet sufficient consumer demand to sustain the number of people who possess mediation skills. This has resulted in an overcrowded mediation market in which practitioners are forced to market themselves so as to compete for a limited clientele. In this context, the emerging mediation profession, with its still forming regulatory bodies, confronts the challenge of managing the image of mediation in the face of the increased marketing activities of mediators. In this paper we examine these marketing activities (described as mimetic, distancing and appellating practices) and their consequences for the public presentation of the mediation “profession.”

Author Bio(s)

R.S. Ratner is a professor emeritus of sociology in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. He has published in the areas of social movements, critical criminology, political sociology, and group interaction. He is currently engaged in research on genocide reparations, mediation, and restorative justice. He can be reached at rsratner@interchange.ubc.ca.

Andrew Woolford is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of Between Justice and Certainty: Treaty Making in British Columbia (UBC Press, 2005), as well as several articles on mediation, restorative justice, and reparations. He can be reached at woolford@ms.umanitoba.edu.


conflict, marketing activities, mediation profession, mediation skills, sustainability

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