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As real life

PeerThink Standard Sheet: Input/Method/Exercise

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

Name of the Input/ Method/Exercise
As real life

1h30 – 2 hours

Target Group/Criteria for Access
Adolescents from the age of 14 years
Role-cards for the participants; several questions (see below) regarding different social discriminations and privileges; a large room where the participants can make steps, according to the number of questions asked.
Learning Outcomes
  • Analysis of unequal distributions of opportunities between the members of different social groups
  • Idea that society is structured by Dominance relations (like by Class)
  • Norms, values and symbolic representations are interlinked with ensuring dominance relations
  • Dominance relations and forms of representations are effecting the individuals
  • Learning experiences with the concept of structural Violence
  • To distinguish between individually controllable and non-controllable mechanisms of social hierarchies (social background, Gender, physical abilities / challenges, sexual orientation, age, family and children, income and property, citizenship, etc.)
  • To perceive different positions of people in society as cause of social inequality
  • To be sensible for the experiences of people with different backgrounds
  • To inspire empathy for excluded and underclassed individuals
To be able to
  • analyse social differences
  • analyse different relations of dominance
  • connect individual experiences to structural and institutional reality
  • to develop empathy
Method Instruction
The method can be used as a central step for dealing with the following questions:
  • Who is privileged, who is discriminated against in society?
  • Who is well represented in public, who is not?
  • How do people deal with privileges and discrimination on the individual level?
The role cards should be adapted very good to the group of participants concerning age and knowledge. It is important to be well prepaired to answer open questions during the debriefing, e.g. regarding the different residence permit status in the country.
Step-by-Step Description

As real life is a simple role game with short role cards. The only possibility to act regarding to several questions is to move forward or to stay still (for roles cards and questions look at the extra sheet). Depending on the answers the participants give to the questions they move forwards or have to stay behind. The result is an image of society with certain dominance relations.

1.You tell the students you will perform a simple role game. The only thing to do is to move foreward in the case of the answer YES or to stay if you answer with NO.

2.You ask the participants to stay in line at one end of the room. Everybody gets a role card and s/he should take two minutes to get familiar with the role. If the role is not clear, it is possible to ask the facilitator. Be careful that nobody from a discriminated minority group takes a role close to their actual social position, which means you should know at least a little bit about the participants.

3.When everybody is ready you start with the questions. Introduce the questions in the way that everybody should give the answers like they think they would answer according to the role. If somebody is not sure ask to remember that question and the feeling of insecurity for the debriefing. But for the moment each person should answer individually without discussing it among the group-members.

The Debriefing is a very important part of the method. While still standing in the positions after the last question, the facilitator asks everybody what their roles were and how they felt in their current position. Go through each question and ask for insecurities regarding the answers. If there are any real wrong answers on the level of facts (like e.g., regarding different rights to move depending on the residence permit status) make short in-puts on that topic. The discussion can be structured by following the questions that were asked during the game.
Topics for the analysis can be, for example:

  • Who was in the fore, who behind?
  • Why did different groups of people move forward with different speed?
  • Which people were restricted by which mechanisms? And, what mechanisms made the front people so fast?
  • Does the game make visible societal hierarchies?
  • Along which lines of difference does inequality arise? (For example: gender, age, un/employment, ethnic background, income, sexual orientation, Religion ...)
  • How do different forms of inequality interact with each other?


Frame Conditions
(Room, Space)
Big room, enough space to move.
  • group size
  • recommendation about point of time or process (e.g.“starter”)
  • Framework/Related Methods
The group should not be bigger than 16 but not less than 10 people.
You should know the participants already to estimate what the issues of the group are.
The participants should know each other a little. Thus, in the time before you should have created a nice atmosphere.
The role cards and questions must be adapted to the age and knowledge of the participants; you can invent some new cards if necessary.
Possible difficulties
  • group situation
  • point of process
The group should not be bigger than 16 but not less than 10 people.
You should know the participants already to estimate what the issues of the group are.
The participants should know each other a little. Thus, in the time before you should have created a nice atmosphere.
The role cards and questions must be adapted to the age and knowledge of the participants; you can invent some new cards if necessary.
Comments and Experiences/Evaluation
The discussion might last awhile, so people might want to sit down. They might after the first step asking them how they feel in their position in the room.
Baustein zur nicht-rassistischen Bildungsarbeit
(revised by Peter Wagenknecht)


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

1.Can you move freely, for example, leave the city or travel? (freedom of movement)?
2.Do you have enough money for the basic goods of everyday life (bread, soap etc.)? (basic economic needs)
3.Do you have a place where you can stay / where you are safe? (habitation)
4.Do you have an occupation that gives you satisfaction and recognition? (labour)
5.Do you have a health insurance or can you afford to see a doctor if necessary? (health care)
6.Could you have a walk at night without fear? (personal safety)
7.Can you call the police if something happens to you? (state protection)
8.Could you walk down the street hand in hand with your lover without being afraid of negative reactions from other people? (visibility, recognition)
9.Can you vote and be elected at the next elections? (political participation)
10.Do television and the media give a somewhat satisfying, differentiated picture of the life people like you have? (media representation)
11.Can you do what you want in your free time -- are you free of care duties to other persons? (social obligations)
12.Do you have someone who takes care of everyday domestic obligations for you? (cooking, cleaning, washing support)
13.Could you -- if you wanted -- afford a whole day of shopping or to go to a spa or beauty farm? (luxury)
14.Do you have access to Education, do you have opportunities to increase your knowledge and skills? (education)

Role cards
Advice: The roles are examples. For each group you have to adapt the card concerning the backgrounds and situations group members are in. It is important that discriminated people do not repeat/reiterate their discrimination.


16 year old school girl with a religious minority background (for example, Muslim in a Christian environment). She lives with her parents who own a small grocery shop. She’s very sporty and plays in a soccer club. Currently she has no boyfriend.
40 year old homeless man, member of the ethnic majority, alcohol addict, makes his living from begging and casual work.
21 year old student, female, with a religious minority background (for example, Muslim in a Christian environment). She has a boyfriend from another religious background, but her family does not know.
25 year old student, female, member of an ethnic minority. She is a lesbian, lives in a shared flat. She works as a waitress to finance her studies.
19 year old Roma man who lived in Germany before, but was sent back two years ago. Tried to get back to Germany but was sent back again. He has no vocational qualification. He lives together with his girlfriend in a shared flat. He is looking for a steady job or vocational training.
23 year old Roma man, stateless (does not have the national citizenship), heterosexual, unmarried, has no children. He earns his living from casual work, mostly at construction sites.
31 year old transsexual woman, had a sex-change operation in Thailand. She emigrated from another country here, has the right of residence and working permission. Speaks with an accent and works in a bar. She would like to get married and to live as housewife.
19 year old woman, homeless, drug addict for two years now. She pays for her drug consumption by stealing. She is a member of the ethnic majority, she is very thin and looks ill.
23 year old student, member of the ethnic majority, lives with his parents who have known for a long time that he is gay. He has a steady boyfriend. His parents accept his lover.
36 year old dentist, who runs her own practice and has a very good income. She is a member of the ethnic majority, a lesbian, lives with two children from a former marriage and her partner.
33 year old social worker, member of the ethnic majority. Suffered a car accident which left him partially paralysed, sits in a wheelchair, gets a disability pension, lives with his parents. He is dating a woman who uses a wheelchair. 
27 year old illegal immigrant, female, fled from her home country because of sexual violence and torture. She did not get the asylum. She is a single parent with two children, works as low-paid home help.
18 year old student, female, lives with her parents. Member of the ethnic majority, loves to go out a lot. Her parents work a lot and make quite good money. She is in trouble with her parents since she started dating a guy from an ethnic minority.
38 year old department chief, steadily employed by a big car company, earns a good living. Member of the ethnic majority, married, has two kids after whom his wife is looking/taking care of. He’s an alcoholic – which nobody knows except his wife.
16 year old schoolboy, white skin, lives with his parents. He has two younger brothers. Both parents are unemployed; the family does not have much money. He works after school, so he has a bit of money for stylish clothes. He fell in love with a boy from the parallel class, but so far hasn’t told anyone.
20 year old dental assistant, female, steady occupied, earns an average wage. She has an immigration background. She is lesbian, lives single. Her employer regularly demands unpaid overtime from her.
23 year old skilled worker, steadily employed with a big car factory, earns quite a good wage. He has an immigrant background (2nd generation), is heterosexual and he is single, has no children. Loves to smoke a joint (hashish) before he goes to bed.
25 year old woman, ethnic majority, no vocational qualification, unemployed, heterosexual, single parent with two children, the family lives on social welfare.
29 year old woman from Ethiopia, black skin, has a university degree in Geography, but is unemployed. She’s married with a department chief (who is member of the ethnic majority in your country). She looks after the two children.
56 year old former mid-level manager, member of the ethnic majority, unemployed for now 8 years, because the enterprise closed down. He cannot find a job in a permanent position, lives on social welfare. He could not afford his car anymore and he had to move to a smaller flat. He is divorced and has a 15 year old daughter who lives with her mother.
38 year old owner of a construction company. Member of the ethnic majority, unmarried, has no kids, is single. For the household, he has a low-paid home help who is an illegal immigrant. He likes to go out quite often and has many affairs – mostly with his secretaries. He goes regularly to the gym and drives a fast car.
17 year old asylum seeker from Ghana without family. He lives in an accommodation for under-aged refugees. He lacks knowledge of the country's language. He has no lover.


Alternative role cards:

You are a computer specialist from Belgium,

working in a big international company in France,

you are 32 years old, single.


You are a                



You are a              



You are a 17 year old male youngster from Germany,

going to high school, you had your “coming out”

a short time ago to some good friends.

Your parents still don’t know you are gay.

You are a
You are a

You are a woman from Sri Lanka, 24 years old,

you have lived in Italy for the last1 ½ years

and you have asked for asylum.

You are a
You are a


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