28.02.2023: Impulse workshop of the National Family Forum: “If the families knew what we write about them in our project applications, they wouldn’t come anymore”.

A self-reflexive look at the use of language in support structures


It is not a minor matter how people and contexts are spoken about. Language maps values, reproduces relations, exclusions and stigmatisations, and shapes expectations, norms and ideals. This can happen subtly or brutally, unintentionally or quite consciously. Within the framework of the current thematic period “Support structures for families – ways to effective services” of the National Family Forum, the connection between language, addressing and successful support will therefore be examined more closely. The event thus responds to questions that were identified in the discussions of the expert forum “Address and values in family support” on 20 October 2022.
Key questions:

  • How can it be avoided that we speak about families differently than we do with families?
  • How can the need for translation between different languages (administrative language, legal language, everyday language, etc.) be reflected upon and a space for this reflection be structurally anchored?
  • What approaches are there to offer support in problematic situations without problematising the people receiving support? (“The problem is structural” instead of “The families are problematic”).

The workshop focuses on communication within the support structures and asks how an awareness of language can be created at all levels.


Prof. Dr. Christian Philipp Nixdorf is a social scientist, organisational educator, social worker and teaches as a professor for social work and integration management at the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences for Management. He is the author of the book “Die Verwaltungssprache des Jobcenters – Semantik der Grundsicherungsarbeit” (2020). Using the example of “social weakness”, the input not only explains why certain terms that are used daily in the social sector can be problematic. It also highlights how the origin of the terms and the respective framing can lead to different connotations. How can a professional, language-sensitive approach to these contradictions succeed?

Afterwards, Sandra Clauß (Landesjugendamt Rheinland, Beirat Bundesforum Familie) will comment on the input and lead into an open discussion.


11:00 Welcome and introduction: BFF office
11:10 Impulse: Prof. Dr. Christian Philipp Nixdorf
11:35 Commentary: Sandra Clauß
11:45 Open discussion
12:15 Closing


The event is aimed at all members of the Bundesforum Familie as well as the students of Prof. Dr. Christian Philipp Nixdorf. Please register for the event by. Registration is possible until 26.02.2023 under https://bundesforum-familie.de/28-februar-2023-online-impulsworkshop-sprache/. You will receive a confirmation by mail. The dial-in data will also be sent to all registered participants by email shortly before the event.