Integration, discrimination, representation, diversity management, precarious work, self-perceptions on belonging among migrants and racialized people, Roma inclusion


Research projects

Current research project (2018-2020):

REPCAT (The Role of the Ethnic Majority in Integration Processes: Attitudes and Practices towards Immigrants in Catalan Institutions). Funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship under Grant Agreement: 747075 — REPCAT — H2020-MSCA-IF-2016/H2020-MSCA-IF-2016. 


Project objectives and methodology

The main objective of this research project is to examine how diversity is represented and what barriers there are for the participation of immigrants and minorities in Catalan public institutions. It is based on the assumption that underrepresentation of ethnic diversity hampers integration processes and cements inequalities, as minority groups lack both voice and visibility in society. 

Three central public institutions have been selected for the empirical study:

1) The Catalan public school system, which plays a central role for the representation of ethnic diversity at different levels, for instance through the educational material that is used, and through the attitudes, values and ethnic origins of school staff.

2) The Catalan police force (Mossos d’Esquadra), representing law enforcement. To prevent racist attitudes and recruit police officers of diverse ethnic origins have, for instance, been shown to play an important role for minority groups’ trust in the police.

3) The political administration of Barcelona (Ajuntament de Barcelona), representing a central decision-making institution and, ultimately, the residents of the city. Here, the main focus lies on the representation of immigrants and diversity in the different political parties present in the City Council.

The empirical part of the project, which is currently being conducted, consists mainly of three case studies, one for each of the three key institutions defined above. These case studies are complemented by additional fieldwork as interviews and focus group sessions with representatives of immigrant and ethnic minority groups. Methodological triangulation is applied throughout, following the strategies considered necessary in order to retrieve the desired data to the extent this is possible. The methodology applied is inspired by participatory action research (PAR), in accordance with the project's statement that research on social challenges as inequality and discrimination to a greater extent should contribute to combat these problems through practical implementation.

There is clearly a comparative dimension of the project methodology: by comparing three public institutions with central functions in society, the intention is to shed light on the obstacles and opportunities for an effective implementation of intercultural policies in different institutional settings. This methodological strategy has been developed during the first year of the project, parallel with the initial fieldwork, and modified during this process in order to define the combination of methods finally considered most fruitful in order to achieve the project goals:

i) to evaluate the outcomes of intercultural policies in terms of the de facto representation of diversity; and

ii) to suggest action strategies intended to address shortcomings in the implementation of these policies, and increase the actual participation and representation of immigrants and minorities in public institutions.  


Project information online:

  • The project was selected by the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP) as an example of Catalan research that supports a sustainable development by promoting the equality of opportunities. Click here
  • The project is on Facebook: Repcat
  • The project is on Twitter: #REPCAT
  • The State of the art report "The Representation of Diversity in Catalan Institutions: Discourse and Practice", based on the research conducted during the first stage of the project, is accessible here.
  • Zenia Hellgren presented the basic principles of the project at an Innovation Camp on how policies can be formulated that contribute to the construction of a sense of belonging among immigrant youth, organized by the Catalan Government within the European Commission's Science meets Regions program. See the full text here



Concluded research projects:

ROMA INCLUSION IN EDUCATION: FOSTERING CONSTRUCTIVE ATTITUDES AND GOOD PRACTICES IN THE BARCELONA AREA (Co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union under Grant Agreement JUST/2015/RDIS/AG/DISC/9372). Director and principal investigator, 2017-2018.

DIASPORA LINK: Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship as a Development Link between Home and Residence Countries (Financed by the European Commission, H2020 Marie Curie Actions RISE). Researcher, 2016-2017.

IMMIGRANTS’ PERCEPTIONS ON INTEGRATION IN TWO INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORKS, SWEDEN AND SPAIN (Funded by a postdoctoral grant from the research foundation University). Director and researcher, 2014-2015.

FAMILIES AND SOCIETIES (Financed by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme). Researcher and responsible for the fieldwork of WP9.8: Migration and Care (on the labor conditions and life situations of migrant domestic workers) in Barcelona, 2013-2015.

DO WELFARE REGIMES MATTER? Migration and Care/Domestic Work in two Institutional Contexts, Sweden and Spain: A Multi-Tier Design (Funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond/The Swedish National Bank). Researcher and consultant, 2013-2016.

CIVGOV: Organised Civil Society and European Governance (Financed by the European Union's Fifth Framework Programme). Researcher within WP3 on anti-discrimination organizations in Sweden, 2005.