My research is essentially about the policies and practices of inclusion or exclusion in ethnically diverse societies, and their implications for inequalities and access to social membership. I am a sociologist with an interdisciplinary approach, conducting extensive empirical studies that contribute to theoretical and methodological development in sociology, social anthropology, and political theory in general, and to the subfield of migration/diversity studies in particular.

Through the lens of inclusion, I approach central issues involving migration and ethnic diversity from different though interrelated perspectives in my research projects and publications. These include the opportunities and challenges for constructive integration processes, with a particular focus on multiple forms of discrimination and the strategies against it; precarious work and undocumented migration; and the barriers and opportunities for empowerment and agency of migrants and racialized groups in European societies. Currently, I am developing three parallel, interrelated lines of research that explore the dynamics of inclusion/exclusion from different perspectives: i) an intersectional approach to institutional racism/discrimination; ii) the boundaries of social membership through a focus on undocumented migration; and iii) the potential for collective organization of precarious workers, through a study on the capabilities and agency of female migrant domestic workers.

At the empirical level, I largely conduct qualitative field studies, guided by an inductive and ethnographic methodology. In recent years I have designed and led several Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects, including the new EU funded project ​REACT: Research-Action against Antigypsyism and Anti-Muslim Discrimination: An Intersectional Approach to Deconstruct Institutional Racism in Schools. I often apply a structure-agency approach by examining the interplay between institutional contexts and different groups of actors or stakeholders, who may uphold, negotiate or challenge institutional practices and power structures. I overall apply an intersectional perspective in my research and teaching and am particularly interested in the relationship between class, race/ethnicity, and gender. Based on this perspective, I have conducted extensive research on everyday, subtle forms of racism and discrimination, structural and institutional racism/discrimination, and on the coping strategies and capabilities of female migrant domestic workers.

I am a Doctor of Sociology from Stockholm University, Sweden (2012). Since 2016 I am a lecturer in political and social theory and a senior research fellow at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, UPF.


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Zenia Hellgren

GRITIM-UPF (Interdisciplinary Research Group on Immigration)

Mercè Rodoreda building (Ciutadella campus)
Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
08005 Barcelona

 +34 93 542 2701

[email protected]

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