Contemporary societies are structured along many dichotomies: male/female, poor/rich, old/young, native/foreign, disabled/nondisabled etc. All these differences are hierarchically structured; they naturalize difference and are closely connected with myths, prejudices and attributions. These are being reproduced and perpetuated in our everyday actions. West and Zimmerman have described this mechanism already in 1987 in the gender context as doing gender. Doing gender is based on the idea that in Western culture, gender, rather than being a natural quality of individuals, is a deeply ingrained social construct that is actively constructed in everyday human interaction. Meanwhile we know similar mechanism to be effective in the context of other social dimensions of inequality which are being negotiated, produced, reproduced and stabilized in everyday communication, accordingly called doing category or doing difference. These – mostly unconscious – processes are happening against a backdrop of structural inequality, signified by sexism, racism, ableism, classism etc. Most attitudes and behaviour patterns are acquired in the course of childhood socialization. This means that people who grow up, live and work in societies which are characterized by structural inequality can only escape these mechanisms through deliberate confrontation.
In their professional practice social workers inevitably have to act in fields which are severely affected by dimensions of difference and their intersectional interaction. Thus it is extremely important for social workers not only to deal academically with social mechanisms and structures of marginalization, but – in a second step – also to analyse the consequences of doing category on individual biographies, especially in the context of social work. And finally we will take a look at our own involvement in doing category as well as at ways and means to undo difference.
Mode of teaching: The seminar will be taught online. Unless otherwise agreed the online meetings will take place every other week at the time given in the university calendar.
For confirmation of participation students are required to take part in a group work project.