Norms are ideas, thoughts, and sets of rules which govern the way we think or react. They also create expectations about others or that others have about us. They can dictate how we behave in certain situations or influence our attitudes about subjects, groups or individuals. Norms are often hidden, masked as something that has “just always been like that” or “we just do things because that’s the way we do it!” Some norms are very casual and they have to do with social interaction, such as table manners. But some norms also shape attitudes we have, and when someone (individuals or groups of people) go against these norms, they are often punished in one way or another.
Norm criticism is both a way of analysing and understanding norms and power structures as well as a tool for challenging and dismantling norms. By using norm criticism one can raise awareness of the privileges, power imbalances and exclusion that some norms create.
Therefore IGLYO is proud to present this toolkit on norms and norm criticism. Its primary audience is organisations working primarily with LGBTQI young people, but it can easily be used by any group interested in trying out a norm critical mindset to analysing norms, power structures and discrimination.
IGLYO would like to give many thanks to the Norm Criticism Task Force (made up of mostly volunteers,) which dedicated its time and energy to creating this resource. Being a member in one of IGLYO’s Task Forces is demanding but it is also very rewarding, as one can see the direct outcome of their work helping others in their activism.
The toolkit is structured around two types of content:
- an explanatory narrative which introduces the theme. An interested user should also read IGLYO’s Position Paper on Norm Criticism in order to get a deeper exposure to the concepts around norm criticism;
- a collection of educational activities which can help activists who want to introduce and explore this concept. The activities can be used by people with various levels of experience of moderating a group as they have detailed instructions for a successful implementation.
The activities in the toolkit can be used with a wide range of audiences, from students in schools all the way to the leadership and board of your organisation and they are easily adaptable, from a more playful and physically dynamic to a more quiet sit-down type of interaction. The narrative sections can be used as background reading by the facilitators and can also very easily be pasted on handouts which can be used as reading assignments within an activity or session.
The toolkit can be downloaded here. Free printed copies are available at IGLYO’s office, so if you are around, please come and pick some copies to be used at your discretion.