Anti-Bias and Anti-Discrimination

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According to the meaning of ‘bias’ as prejudice, it is the aim of Anti-Bias to get an inequality based on one-sidedness and bias into balance, and to gradually reduce discrimination. Anti-Bias workshops are an intensive experience-orientated examination of dominance and discrimination and aim on the un-learning of oppressive and discriminating forms of communication and interaction.

The approach assumes that everyone has prejudices. This is based on the consideration that prejudices and discriminations are not individual misjudgements, but institutionalized in society as ideologies, which are learned by the individuals. Correspondingly, the behaviour based on those prejudices can be un-learned, and institutionalized oppressive ideologies can be discovered, questioned, and analyzed.

The concept was developed in the beginning of the 1980s by Louise Derman-Sparks and Carol Brunson-Philips in the USA, where it was mainly used in the field of elementary and primary education. The approach has undergone some intensive further development after the end of the Apartheid system in South Africa, where it was being adapted for youth and adult education. It was not until the beginning of the 1990s that the approach reached Germany via an exchange of South African and German experts organized by Inkota e.V., Berlin. Now Anti-Bias in Germany is used in elementary education and in schools as well as in the field of adult education.

Multiple Discriminations


Interaction of different forms of discrimination against one person. Circumstances such as gender, class, disability, and ethnicity interact in a complex way so that the experience of discrimination influence and reinforce each other.

One speciality of the Anti-Bias-Approach is the ability to focus on many kinds of discrimination. Exclusion and reduction of people is being addressed not only regarding ethnic or ‘racial’ features, but discrimination on the basis of e.g. gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental health, or social class are also taken into view. In this connection, the complex entanglements and interdependencies between those dimensions are significant. [1]


Power and Rules of the majority are topic of anti-discrimination approaches. The show unfair stereotypes and hierarchies grounding in discrimination. They try to change them through a change of consciousness and through motivation to active protest or behavioral change. In example, the forum theatre has its root in the social inequality of the military regimes's Brasil in the 70ies.

Direct Discrimination

  • Unequal, disadvantaged, or exclusive treatment (e.g. no/less access to resources)
  • Situations in which people are harmed, humiliated, or hurt
  • Being ignored or not considered (e.g. in participation processes)

Indirect Discrimination

Purportedly neutral treatment with the same rules for everyone but different consequences (e.g. job advertisements demanding perfect language skills discriminate against non-native speakers)


Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Network Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email:


Handbook: Diversity-dynamics.jpg

H. Fahrun, E. Skowron, N. Zimmermann

Diversity Dynamics: Activating the Potential of Diversity in Trainings.