Glossary

Important terms of diversity-oriented educational work explained

Ableism

This term refers to the structural discrimination of people with an (assigned) disability, as well as people who are handicapped. 1

Ageism

This term describes the structural discrimination of people based on their assigned old age as well as the stigmatisation of old age and being elderly. For example, through socio-cultural predominant associations with illness as well as physical and mental decline. 2

Classism

The term classism refers to the discrimination of people based on their (assigned) economic, social and educational-political status/background. This can occur on an interactional, institutional, and/or socio-cultural level. 3

Diversity

The diversity approach departs from a multi-dimensional perspective: Individuals are characterised by numerous differences and the belonging to a larger number of different groups in a high-ordered social context and society. Based on the multiple affiliations to various diversity dimensions, such as gender identity, ethnic and cultural background, skin colour, religion, worldview, sexual orientation, disability, age, social status, occupation etc., there exists simultaneously differences and commonalities between individuals, depending on the context. The diversity approach picks up on intersectionality in so far as it particularly makes aware the connection of belonging and assignment of social status and the position of these in societal dominance structures. 4

Empowerment

The term has been characterised by the U.S. civil rights and self-help movements and stands for the self-empowering or self-enablement of peoples. This means a process in which disadvantaged people develop their own strengths and use their skills, in order to participate in political and societal decision-making processes and do so to improve their living circumstances and opportunities to develop – independent of the benevolence and the majority class. 5

Heteronormativity

Heteronormativity refers to the “presumed to be natural exclusive binary division of genders (man and woman)” and mutual heterosexual desire, which are both seen as societal norms and, accordingly, binary stereotypes for men and women. 6

Intersectionality

This term refers to the analysis of interdependence (mutual conditionality) and the combined effects of various categories of difference with dimensions and social inequality and exclusion. In order to create a thorough understanding of discrimination, their individual forms (such as racism, sexism or hetero-sexism) may not be considered as independent of one another. 7

People of Color (POC)

People of Colour serves as an analytical and political term, which is used for all people and communities which are racialised as “other” and were and continue to be oppressed. Meanwhile the term BPoC (Black and People of Colour) is used more frequently to expressly include black people. Somewhat less frequently the term is extended to BIPoC (Black and Indigenous People of Colour) which includes indigenous people. 8

Queer

Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender. 9

Sexism

Under sexism is understood to be every form of discrimination of people based on their (assigned) gender as well as its appearance in underlying ideologies. 10

White/Whiteness

“White” does not necessarily mean the shade of colour of a person’s skin but the position and social attribution as white in a racially-structured society. 11