Intermediate: how to analyse the context of hate speech

Analysing the context means understanding the socio-cultural environment in which hate speech was used. This relates to how vulnerable the target of the hate speech is from a social, cultural or political perspective.

Hate speech can target any social group, but members of the majority population are less vulnerable than potentially marginalised groups who have been exposed to a long history of negative stereotyping, lack of access to services and weak political self-determination.

 Criteria to be considered

Determining whether the group targeted by the expression is a potentially vulnerable group

This is a binary assessment (Yes / No) that can be done by looking into whether the group represents a minority from an ethnical / racial / religious / sexual / gender / social status / other criteria.

If group identities are overlapping (e.g. the target is a Roma business owner), the criterion should yield “Yes” if the person was attacked on grounds of being Roma and “No” if the person was attacked for being a large business owner.

Type of acts of violence / discrimination carried out in recent years against the group targeted by the expression

The answer options we are proposing, in order of severity, are: “Verbal violence”, “Psychological violence”, “Generalised discrimination by fellow citizens”, “Institutionalized discrimination” “Property destruction”, “Generalised and institutionalized restrictions of human or civil rights”, “physical violence”, “murder motivated by hatred”.  You should choose the answer based on the most severe situations in which members of the targeted group have found themselves in recent years.

Extent of negative stereotypes towards the group targeted by the expression

We are proposing three possible answers: “Some extent”, “Moderate extent” and “High extent”.

Some extent means that there are just a few people who hold negative stereotypes against the group, while “High extent” means that negative stereotypes are common in society.

Connection of the hate message with the negative stereotypes against the group targeted by the expression

The answer options are: “No connection”, “allusions towards negative stereotypes”, “affirmation and/or consolidation of negative stereotypes”.

Political representation of the group targeted by the expression

The answer options are: “Consolidated political representation”, “In-group political representation”, “Limited political representation”, “Lack of political representation”. Choose “In-group political representation” when the only well-known elected officials are exclusively members of a party that aims to represent the vulnerable group.

Alternatively, choose “Consolidated political representation” when there are multiple well-known elected officials belonging to the targeted group who are members of different political parties.