Power and Justice: An Hypothesis in the Anthropology of Law
AbstractWhat characteristics of an interpersonal dispute determine the type of forum that is best suited for processing that dispute? When is a less formal approach such as mediation preferable to court action and vice-versa? Attention will be given to the disputant's justice goals. Third-party dispute forums are analyzed in terms of where power is located during all stages of the dispute resolution procedure. An hypothesis is offered which predicts that the most appropriate locus of power, be it with the disputants themselves, with a third-party such as a mediator, or with "rules" of procedure is a function of the disputant's justice goals, the relationship between the disputants, and the costs of the dispute. The hypothesis is related to three types of third-party forums — mediation, arbitration, and adjudication.
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