CONFERENCE PAPER – The Possibilities of Immersive Mediation
Deep thinking has led to the idea of ‘Immersive Mediation’ – tried and tested mediation processes conducted in an immersive projection mapped room, where a neutral person actively assists parties in working towards a negotiated agreement of a dispute or difference.
The art of negotiation is sorely needed in an age of seemingly increasing polarisation. From Parliament thrashing out Brexit, to family mediators helping couples part on amicable terms and handling the growth in hate crime, effective mediation is growing in demand.
Imagine a room full of colour, imagery and footage projected on to the walls relating to a dispute. Sat together in the room is a mediator and two disputing persons. There are moments of calm and reflection throughout to accelerate parties in working towards a settlement.
In recent years, 60-90% of all family and commercial mediation outcomes involved successful agreements. Settling disputes through mediation can save time and money by avoiding court proceedings, and often leaves parties in a better state of mind. It is also voluntary and confidential.
My idea has the potential to improve, enhance and accelerate the mediation process. Learning, memory and attention and motivation is enhanced in immersive virtual environments (Schnall, Hedge & Weaver, 2012). Words on paper or on a standard screen is not for everyone; hence Immersive Mediation could greatly help visual and auditory learners.
The immersive industry is fatigued with claims around empathy and behaviour change through Point-Of-View goggled experiences. As a simulative platform it carries an inherent moral risk of improper distance (Kate Nash, 2018). This new idea will be a shared experience, forcing parties to take responsibility for their perspective. Keyboard Warriors can not hide!
The mediation profession is in the hands of a few, around 200 individuals are involved in 85% of all commercial cases. CEDR (2018) argues that the field will only continue to thrive if it can offer the market new talent. The average age of a mediator is 59 years old and most identify as male (65%).
Disruptive Innovation is: “An innovation that creates a new market and value network… displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances” (CEDR, 2018). Millennials are increasingly growing into positions of influence within corporations and communities, and Immersive Mediation will question if traditional dispute resolution processes meet their needs.
Civil & Commercial – Each year, the value of cases mediated is approximately £11.5bn (2016: £10.5bn). The market in England & Wales is approximately 12k cases per annum. This is up 20% compared to 2016; suggesting an acceleration of growth.
Family – There are 2.5m separated families in the UK and 200-250k parents separate annually. The Children and Families Act 2014 places a legal obligation on applicants to attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting before going to court for private family law matters. The government target is 30% of separating families going to mediation, compared to 8% now. Mediators charge £100-300 for an initial meeting; full cases cost £300-2.5k.
Workplace – Four in ten UK employees report some form of conflict at work in the past year. The public and voluntary sectors experience conflict more often, compared to the private sector. More influential is organisational size. Mediated cases cost £200-1k.
Other including Restorative Justice – Hate crime in the UK has increased by 29% and most are race related. There were 80,393 offences in 2016-17, compared with 62,518 in 2015-16.
Children & Families Act (2014) UK Government.
Innovate UK (2018) The immersive economy in the UK. https://www.immerseuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Immersive_Technologies_PDF_lowres.pdf [Report]
Ivanovitch, A. (2017). Virtual Reality: The Frontier of Peacemaking. Centre for Empathy in International Affairs. https://www.centerforempathy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/CEIA-Virtual-Reality-The-Frontier-of-Peacemaking.pdf
Nash, K. (2018) Virtual reality witness: exploring the ethics of mediated presence. Studies in Documentary Film, 12:2, 119-131
Schnall, S., Hedge, C., & Weaver, R. (2012). The Immersive Virtual Environment of the digital fulldome: Considerations of relevant psychological processes. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 70(8), 561-575