Scenario #4
Deconstruction of Hate Speech

Deconstruction of Hate Speech

Aims / objectives

The aim is to deconstruct hate speech in order to take the wind out of the sails of extremist forces, to strengthen the ability to act against discrimination, prejudice, etc. and to develop positive counterspeech. This is done through the analysis of common stereotypes, hate messages, insults and swear words that are deconstructed.

Description of the method

The trainer asks the participants to brainstorm the most common swear words and insults they know or have heard themselves. These are categorised (possible categories: animals, appearance, sexuality, religion, intelligence, social origin, ethnic origin, faeces, etc.). The words are then deconstructed: What do they actually mean exactly? Why are they offensive, in which context and to whom? Why are they used as insults by various people?

Participants can then reflect and discuss how they might respond to various swear words, for example, by asking questions or by not taking the swear word as an insult. If, for example, the word “pig” is used, a response can be given: “A pig is useful, intelligent and clean. So what is there to be insulting about one?”

This forms the basis for possible responses, counterspeech or alternative speech. First and foremost, however, the aim is to reflect on the emotionally striking insults in a cognitive way and thereby reduce their impact.

Usability in social work

The exercise is particularly suitable for social and youth work because it addresses the realities of young people's lives, which makes it easier to access. The formal requirements are rather low, even if it is not easy in a purely bilateral discussion. Small groups of young people who know each other are most suitable. A certain basic mutual trust is necessary for the exercise as well as trust towards the trainer.


Name of the method

Deconstruction of hate speech

Target group

Especially young people from 12 to 18


30 minutes to 1 hour

Spatial requirements

No special requirements, room for group work useful


Critical reflection, critical thinking, tolerance of ambiguity, respect, empathy


Deconstruction of hate speech and discussion of counter or alternative speech; strengthening resilience

Method description

Individual or (better) group exercise; collection of hate speech, swear words, categorisation and deconstruction; discussion of possible counter or alternative speech

Social work context

Method is suitable for social work context because it is close to the life experiences of young people; they can talk openly about own experiences and use their language with a critical reflection


Facilitator should have a collection of swear words and categories, prejudices and possible reactions


Swear words can hurt even if they are analysed, so there needs to be a good level of mutual trust and safe space

Concept / application

Method was presented by Reinhard Leonhardsberger in a national workshop during the project


variants of the method can be found in Bookmarks ( - saying it worse, pp. 112-117 or in Compasito, words that wound (

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