Does Mediation Make Us Better? Exploring the Capacity-Building Potential of Community Mediation



The prevailing measures of the success of mediation have largely focused on rates of settlement and satisfaction while overlooking the capacity-building goals expressed by many mediation advocates. I address this through empirical study of the effects of mediation on participant capacity at two community mediation organizations in Toronto. I find that mediation has the potential to build participant capacity, but in the majority of cases, it does not have these lasting effects on participants. Based on these findings I conclude that mediation advocates should scale back and reconceptualize, though not entirely abandon, their claims about the capacity-building potential of mediation.