Dr Emma Mitchell

Emma_MitchellDr Emma Mitchell is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Urban Geographies of Care in the Institute for Culture and Society. She works alongside Emma Power on the ARC Discovery Project ‘Shadow Care Infrastructures: Sustaining Life in Post-welfare Cities’ (2021-2024), which asks how people reliant on government income support make ends meet. It investigates whether and how ‘shadow care infrastructures’ – a wide range of formal and informal material and social supports – enable the survival, well-being and flourishing of income support recipients. Focusing on people with disabilities, unemployed and asylum seekers, the research evaluates the benefits and harms such infrastructures produce for those receiving and providing care, and the wider community. It examines risks and opportunities to scale up emerging care infrastructures identified as critical to making ends meet for income support recipients in contemporary cities.

Emma was a CI on the Vertical Villages: Community, Place, and Urban Density Pilot project at Macquarie University (October 2019 – April 2021). The project explored resident experiences of living in multicultural, high density urban environments and the potential role of faith-based organisations in facilitating place-making and community development.

Emma has a PhD in Sociology from Macquarie University. Her doctoral research examined culturally diverse perspectives of the welfare system among welfare users in South Western Sydney. Policy Press will release a book based on her doctoral research, titled Making a Life on Mean Welfare: Voices from Multicultural Sydney, in late 2022.

Emma specialises in qualitative methodologies. She has conducted qualitative research across multiple projects, including as a Research Officer of the ARC Discovery project on housing precarity among international students and the ARC Linkage project on experiences of waiting for social housing. She teaches an intensive introduction to qualitative research run by ACSPRI.


  • PhD, 2018, Macquarie University
  • BA Languages (Honours), 2011, Sydney University

Research Focus

  • Social support and security
  • Housing security
  • Lived diversity and multiculturalism
  • Social policy and social inequality
  • Urban life and social mix

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2015, Academy of Urban Superdiversity Visiting Scholar, Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
  • 2012, Macquarie University Research Excellence Scholarship

Selected Publications

Mitchell, E (2023) Making a Life on Mean Welfare: Voices from Multicultural Sydney, Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Mitchell, E (2022) ‘“You have to beg for help”: How our welfare system pressures people to perform vulnerability’, The Conversation, 1 December.

Power, E, Wiesel, I, Mitchell, E and Mee, K (2022) ‘Shadow care infrastructures: Sustaining life in the post-welfare city’, Progress in Human Geography, vol 46, no. 5, pp. 1165-1184.

Mitchell, E and Vincent, E 2021, ‘The shame of welfare? Lived experiences of welfare and culturally inflected experiences of shame’, Emotion, Space and Society, vol. 41, pp. 1-8.

Mitchell, E 2021, ‘More than making do: Towards a generative account of getting by on welfare benefits’, Sociology, pp. 1-17.

Morris, A, Wilson, S, Mitchell, E, Ramia, G and Hastings, C 2021 ‘International students struggling in the private rental sector in Australia prior to and during the pandemic’, Housing Studies.

Williams, M, Mitchell, E, Cavanough, K, Ruming, K, Wise, A & Harrison, I 2021, Vertical Villages: Community, Place and Urban Density Pilot Project, Final Report, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Mitchell, E 2020, ‘Negotiating vulnerability: the experience of long-term social security recipients’, The Sociological Review, vol. 68, no.1, pp. 225-241.

Morris, A, Hastings, C, Wilson, S, Mitchell, E, Ramia, G, & Overgaard, C 2020, The Experience of International Students Before and During COVID-19: Housing, work, study and wellbeing, University of Technology, Sydney.

Morris, A, Mitchell, E & Ramia, G 2020, ‘Why coronavirus impacts are devastating for international students in private rental housing’, The Conversation, 7 April, https://theconversation.com/why-coronavirus-impacts-are-devastating-for-international-students-in-private-rental-housing-134792.


Contact Dr Emma Mitchell