Resolving disputes within the parish: the role of Greek orthodox priests as third parties
Gatsias, Athanasios (2008) Resolving disputes within the parish: the role of Greek orthodox priests as third parties. [Thesis]
Official URL: http://192.168.1.20/record=b1266175 (Table of Contents)
Third party intervention, as a process intended to facilitate the resolution of disputes between two or more parties, does not appear in a vacuum. Rather, as any reaction to conflict occurrence and any perception of conflict and conflict behavior, is widely affected by a given cultural system, within which both the disputants and the third party live and act. The aim of this exploratory research was to reveal the role of Greek Orthodox priests as third parties in disputes involving members of Christian religious communities. The focus of the study was both on the process and on the outcome of this type of interventions. In an effort to achieve this task, fourteen priests from different cities and villages of Northern Greece were interviewed, answering both a series of open-ended questions and narrating intervention cases, which they most vividly remembered. Firstly, this thesis provides an overview of the overall process by presenting priests' answers to a series of questions such as: why do Christians seek their intervention? What types of disputes are brought to them? Who initiates the process? What are the techniques that priests use during the process? Secondly, an effort was made to reveal the factors that exert an influence on the behavior of the third parties. Finally, a series of determinants of the intervention outcomes were revealed and discussed, as well. Throughout the analysis of the findings it was shown that priests, as important figures of a continuing and common network and being perceived as representatives of God on Earth, enjoy the trust and respect of the parties involved in interpersonal disputes. Central, both for the process and for the outcome, is the emphasis given by priests during the intervention on the inspiration of love between the disputants. Moreover, it was revealed that a) the nature of the dispute and b) the relationship between the parties and the mediator, do constitute determinants of mediation strategies in the context concerned, whereas the outcome of the intervention is influenced by a) the relationship between the disputants and the third party, b) the strategy employed by the third party, and c) the context of mediation. Finally, it was shown that of central importance is the existence of a Confessor-Confessant relationship between the priest and the Christians involved in disputes; a relationship with various implications, both for disputants' and for the third party's behavior, as well as for the outcome of the intervention.
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