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Constructions on Violence

PeerThink Standard Sheet: Input/Method/Exercise

Based on RealGeM & GemTrEx, with adaptations referring to Blickhäuser & Bargen1

Name of the Input/ Method/Exercise
Constructions on Violence
2-3 hours
Target Group/Criteria for Access
Youngsters (12-21)
Cards, flipchart-paper, marker, pin-board, pins
(optional: camera and beamer)
Learning Outcomes
 Knowledge The introduction and discussion on the existence of many different societal categories referring to the following questions: What are they? How are they constructed? How do they work? How are they linked to violence?

Connection between living conditions and probability of violence occurrence: and the stereotype that go with this assumption/stereotypes/prejudices/clichés

To see and get aware about the visibility of the complexity of societal living conditions

To get a broader picture/awareness raising.
 Skills Self-awareness and interpersonal skills

Encourage the development of self-awareness and good interpersonal skills
Deal with difference
Listen actively, discuss and argue
Discuss stereotypes, prejudice and roots of inequality
To recognise that violence is a multifactoral phenomenon that cannot be linked to certain categories only.
Method Instruction
“Constructions on Violence” is a method, where participants create/construct two persons: a violent and a non-violent one. Each person (randomly chosen) gets cards in which social categories (for example, Gender, Religion, race, Ethnicity, sexual orientation, health condition, etc.) are written and put them on a wall under “violent” or “non-violent” person, where they think the card with a certain category should be placed in order to describe violent or non-violent person.
Step-by-Step Description

1. Open up to the topic of violence by brainstorming ‘what is violence’. (write on board/flipchart)

  • Where do you perceive violence?
  • What forms of violence do you know?
  • Who uses violence/violent behaviour?

2. Now, the ‘construction’ will begin. The facilitator/moderator of the workshop pins up the prepared paper, where two persons will be constructed, violent and non-violent.


Violent                                                      Non-violent


3. Participants select their cards with different social categories and the ‘construction’ begins by putting cards on the paper under violent or non violent person, where they think the card with a certain category should be placed in order to describe a violent or non-violent person.. 

4. The discussion follows about the constructed persons (take a picture if you use a projector) focusing on a following questions:

  • What is the difference between a violent and a non-violent person?
  • Which categories “determines” a violent person and which a non-violent person?

5.  Changing cards from one side to the other and discussing after each change, whether the person is still likely to use violence. (The moderator decides on which category they want to focus on.)

6. After some changes, take another picture and compare with the first picture. Work on the differences. (using the current picture and projecting the “first creation” with the projector onto a wall)

7. Summarise the findings of the group

8. Feedback round with participants


CARDS: (several cards for one criteria)
M.: Name of the created person. In the test-version he was male, 18:
Age: 18, 35, 67. ?? (preselection is recommended)

Sex/Gender: male/female/hermaphrodite (opens up additional topic):
M. doesn´t have a definite sex. He looks like a man, but he also has the genitals (womb & vagina) of a woman. ((Example)). (People like M. are call hermaphrodites.)

Religion: simple version 1.:
M. is not a religious person – he is no member of a church.
M. is a religious person – he is member of a church.

Complex version 2.:
M. is not a religious person. He never goes to church.
M. is strictly religious and goes to church regularly.
M. is a practicing Buddhist and meditates daily.
M. is a pious Muslim who daily prays towards Mekka.

M. has the same skincolor as most of his fellow citizens.
M. has a different skincolor than most of his fellow citizens.

M. is fit and has a strong and healthy body.
M. uses a wheelchair since he was a small child. He has got strong arms and shoulders.

Sexual Orientation/Sexualities:
M. fancies men. He loves to kiss his partner.
M. loves women and men, as long as he enjoys it.
M. fancies women. Nothing else comes to his mind.

Migration background:
M. is of Turkish nationality. At the age of 14 his family moved from Ankara to “Austria”. ((change))
M.s parents were born in Austria.
M. has been living in “Austria” since his 4th birthday. His parents are from former Yugoslavia. (one could differentiate here)

Health status:
M. is depressive and pessimistic. He doesn´t fancy life much.
M. is a cheerful, bright, merry and full of the joys of life kind of person. He always looks forward to the challenges of life.

Employment status:
M. works in a metal-processing-company as a shift worker.
M. is on the dole and looking for a job again.
M. works half-time in an office. The other half, he looks after his son.

Personal network status:
M. has a lot of friends and acquaintances. Most people know what he is like in a split second. He sees his family regularly.
M. lives solitarily and knows few people. In everyday life he talks little, unless he has to.

Reproduction work:
M. doesn´t bother about housework. He doesn´t need that.
M. handles housework regularly, for “those are things, which have to be done!”

M. has never been at the seaside and doesn´t own ski equipment. ((change))
M. always goes to the seaside for 3 weeks during summer. In winter time he spends all in all two weeks at a famous wintersport-resort.

Drug consumption:
M. drinks alcohol regularly.
M. is a drug addict since his 14th birthday. Once a week he uses heroin.
M. doesn´t do drugs and rarely drinks alcohol.
M. smokes cigarettes and drinks beer from time to time. He has also tried to smoke pot/marihuana once.

M. doesn´t have hobbies and doesn’t know what to do with his leisure time.
M. has a lot of hobbies and many ideas how to spend his free time, alone or with others.

Relationship status:
M. currently is in stable relationship.
M. lives alone and not in the relationship.
M. lives in a shared flat as a single.
Level of Education:
M. doesn´t have a positive school leaving certificate.
M. owns a general qualification for university entrance. A university degree is what he strives for.
M. is a skilled motor mechanic with master craftsman's diploma.
Community Membership:
M. hates clubs and associations. Sometimes he visits a road show.
M. is member of a sect and wears their secret gown or uniform. He stands to the strict rules of his alliance.
M. is part of an organic farming and animal rights activist group that tries to live independently from societal necessities.

Social background – Milieu:
M. derives from a workers family that appreciates gainful employment and solidarity.
M. comes from a farm where he had to work a lot. Traditional dancing and singing have been very important in his family.
M. derives from a family that runs a company for decades. The family is member of an elitist club. (e.g.: Rotary Club)

Use few categories for in depth discussion
Frame Conditions
(Room, Space)
“good” working atmosphere and spacious room
  • group size
  • recommendation about point of time or process (e.g.“starter”)
  • Framework/Related Methods
In trainings: Small groups of 6-10 (depending on the target groups competencies)
Method can be embedded in longer projects on awareness raising, intercultural, anti-violence, social competency trainings etc., but can also be used in school lessons with more participants
Not as starter/in the beginning of a group process

Possible difficulties
  • group situation
  • point of process
Methods needs a minimum of reading and comprehension competencies, conflicts in the group should be addressed first, to be able to include each participant in the discussion

Comments and Experiences/Evaluation
The method has been tested once in a group of six boys the age of 13-15 embedded in 4 hours workshop on masculinities and gender relations, sexualities and violence. Therefore a man the age of 18 was constructed either violent or non-violent person.
The usage of all categories would take a lot more time than available in the test-workshop. It would also be recommendable to work on several days with different categories.
The group of boys, where the method was tested had low concentration capacities, so more breaks in between would be necessary – bodywork and games should accompany the method.
One should decide on the main interest of the method for the current session – stick to that plan during the discussion otherwise it’s likely that you find yourself and the group talking about “everything and nothing”
Fritz Reinbacher & Elli Scambor (Men´s Counselling Center Graz), Ziva Humer (The Peace Institute, Ljubljana)


1 Blickhäuser, Angelika / Bargen, Henning von (Hrsg.) (2006): Mehr Qualität durch Gender Kompetenz. Ein Wegweiser für Training und Beratung im Gender Mainstreaming. Königstein/Taunus.

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