Newsletter "Living Equality" No.2, March 2008

Spenden gegen Rechtsextremismus


Focus on Equality and Respect in the Community, March 2008

This is the 2nd electronic Newsletter for the Program "Living Equality“ of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.



1. Editorial

2. The „Living Equality“ Network
- Network meeting: Practical Advice
- Local Cooperation Partners

3. The Audit for Respect
- What is Respect?
- What is an Audit?

4. Applying the Audit
- Schwedt: Discussing the Participation of Children
- Waren: Changing Our District
- Bernau: Getting Children Involved!
- Bergisches Land: Training Coaches

5. Announcement
- Weinheim’s Dialog for Researchers and Practitioners





Dear Readers,

Since the beginning of the “Living Equality” program, two questions keep coming up: how do you establish equality? And: what enables people to see themselves as equals and to defend the equality of others? The answer seems relatively simple: experience, the good experience, that you yourself are an equal, that you are valued and needed as much as others and that you have a part in the process of making decisions. For this type of experience the saying counts: the earlier, the better. But since human beings are constant learners, it is important that the experience take place at some point in your life, no matter when. That is what you can call prevention.

We know too little about prevention. Those who talk about preventing bigotry today usually mean combating neo-Nazis and believe to have achieved a whole lot with that, such as preventing anti-Semitism, “social Darwinism,” racism, and more. But prevention is something else. It starts much earlier, both in terms of personal biographies and in terms of politics. When we speak of prevention, we shouldn’t mean intervention.

Real prevention requires a particular culture. That is what makes the work so difficult. It sounds logical to say that to fight inequality you need the experience of equality. But how do you create such an experience? How can you do preventive pedagogical work with such a complex topic? By appealing to the good in people? Through moralistic emotionality? Through injunctions? Or in a very different way? This newsletter presents a method, surely one among many justified methods. But this one is different because it creates the culture required for equality, the culture of a democratic procedure that enables equality and morality without constantly talking about them. The Audit for Equality is not a didactic game, nor a moralistic lesson plan about democracy, nor a weekend workshop. It is a concept for action and, at the same time, a tool kit full of indispensable instruments for enabling respect, recognition and protection for every individual.

The Audit also brings to light what happens when someone practices bigotry. Bigotry is a danger for democracy and for a democratic culture. Our Audit, which was developed in cooperation with the RAA Berlin, is just one of the answers to the challenge of bigotry and group-focused enmity, and our answer says that in our everyday contact with one another, and especially for people who face discrimination, a culture of engagement and of drawing boundaries is necessary, no more, no less.

Thank you for reading,

Anetta Kahane





What can social psychology and sociology contribute to the work against bigotry? Andreas Zick (University of Jena) and Beate Küpper (Technical University Dresden) encouraged participants at a two-day conference of the “Living Equality” Network to use the findings of scientific research in their practical work. “Projects that aim at changing people’s behavior should be addressing people at three different levels: affect, cognition, and the intention of their actions,” explained Beate Küpper. For example, campaigns against anti-Semitism most often work on providing knowledge and thus address the cognitive functions--but in order to actually change behavior, one would also need to consider the emotional side. The researchers clarified the aim of working against bigotry and group-focused enmity. “Well, yes, people function in such a way that they place other people in groups and create categories, but the question is, how do I do this?” explained Küpper. “The goal needs to be: to avoid condescending or demeaning prejudices, to take an ethical position in order to prevent the hatred of certain groups from becoming socially acceptable.”





The term "respect" is used as a synonym for recognition, approval, giving value, praise, even awe. Mutual respect is necessary for any type of coexistence, whether it is in the classroom or out in society. When a member of a group is not respected, this lack of respect easily turns into exclusion from the group. In psychology it is assumed that respect in the sense of recognition and acceptance plays a role in an individual's own sense of self-worth. Already the philosopher Hegel emphasized that respect is necessary for self-confidence. In a later development of the social psychology of the Frankfurt School, Alex Honneth put respect at the center of this work. He worked out three interconnected forms of respect: emotional attention (love), legal and political respect, and solidarity (an orientation towards common values). Individual self-confidence, self-respect, and self-appreciation go along with those forms of respect. According to Heitmeyer respect is the most important source of a positive self-image. Respect gives you status and prestige. Heimeyer points out, however, that people also create respect for themselves through violence, discrimination, and by disrespecting others. Clearly, that kind of respect is a problem.


Equality is not something that can be communicated at the purely cognitive level. It is more effective to convey equality by making equality an experience, a positive experience. The Audit contributes to this: it makes possible the experience of equality in regular, everyday life. The process begins at the current local conditions. It offers the opportunity to analyze the situation in great detail and to change it. The word "Audit" is derived from the Latin "audire," which means, to listen. That is the core of the Audit: a group of people talks about a situation that concerns them all. Everyone listens to one another and comes to a common assessment of the current situation. A set of criteria simplifies this task. The criteria spells out, what it is that needs to change in the given situation, in order to improve it.





Pupils of the Dreiklang High School in Schwedt (Brandenburg) agree that the range of optional subjects offered by the school is good, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't improve quite a bit still. That's why they are taking part in the project on "Living Equality," and have decided to conduct an Audit at their school together with the school administration. Ten students meet every two weeks to work out the criteria for their Audit for Respect. The initial goal is to discuss statements such as: "Children and young people have the right to participate, a right that cannot be denied under any circumstances." The young students discuss heatedly, says Harald Podzuweit. He remarks that the discussion of the Audit has alerted the students to the many different everyday situations at the school.


In Waren-Papenberg in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the Audit will be conducted in conjunction with teachers, high school students, other local agents, and the regional housing authority. By now, a group of regulars has come together. The group is in the process of analyzing the local situation, enumerating the changes desired, and implementing those changes. One important factor is that the participants again and again have help from the outside in order to keep in mind, why they wish to implement which changes, and which important institutions and people at the local level could support them in their activities. The process of the Audit is very helpful according to the participants in effectively safeguarding the process of reflection and in carrying out the changes agreed upon. The current goal is to improve the culture of respect for all young people. One of the means to the end is to re-open a youth club.


In Bernau (Brandenburg), children, teenagers, and young adults from two local youth centers are working together and carrying out a large number of activities on respect and equality. At the start of the project there were about 20 educators and youths who were interested in the method of the Audit for Respect for their work at the youth centers. Through a number of conversations and workshops several goals were worked out. For example: the aims and criteria of the Audit should be worked over so that they can be understood by children and used in a cooperative process with children. Ultimately, they want to improve the cooperation between their centers and with other clubs and institutions in Bernau.


The area Bergisches Land (North Rhine-Westphalia) has a long history of immigration, a history that is also evident in the easy interaction among different social and ethnic groups. Precisely in this context the State Center for Intercultural Education and the program “Schools without Racism” program found it exciting to establish the Audit for Respect as a new pedagogic tool in the region. Project director Nicole Marjo Gerlach explains: “Despite the history of immigration in the region, there is still a need in many school for practical “tools” to establish equality and respect throughout the school and thus to create a peaceful environment and provide new chances for integration.” Her assessment is confirmed by the positive responses to the offer: since August 2007 fifteen schools have taken part in the “equality coach” training, in which the teachers learn how to perform an Audit for Respect in their school. In six of those schools, the Audit will soon be applied by the students.

The trials for the Audit in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and in Brandenburg is made possible through XENOS, a special program of the Federal Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs.





As usual, the dialogue among experts from theory and praxis will also take place in 2008 at the Freudenberg Foundation in Weinheim. This year's focus is the work against bigotry in a whole-community approach, whether the "community" in question is a city, part of a city, a small town, etc.

More information on the dialog at the website of the Freudenberg Foundation.



The Project "Living Equality“ is funded through the Ford Foundation, New York, and the Freudenberg Foundation, Weinheim.
Copyright (c) 2008
Published on: February 10, 2008

Amadeu Antonio Stiftung

info (at)
Linienstrasse 139
10115 Berlin - Germany
Phone:  +49 - (0)30. 240 886 10
Fax:  +49 (0)30. 240 886 22

This edition: Timo Reinfrank with Anetta Kahane, Berit Lusebrink, Sebastian Brux, Jan Schwab, Andrés Nader.  
Translation: Andrés Nader



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Tel.:  ++49 (0)30. 240 886 10
Fax:  ++49 (0)30. 240 886 22



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