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 is publishing a book based on her doctoral research, provisionally titled Moral Selves and Mean Welfare: Responsibility and Vulnerability in Multicultural Sydney. 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 2021, More than making do: Towards a generative account of getting by on welfare benefits, Sociology.

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 (opens in a new window), Housing Studies.

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

Mitchell, E 2020, Negotiating vulnerability: the experience of long-term social security recipients (opens in a new window), 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 (opens in a new window), University of Technology, Sydney.

Morris, A, Mitchell, E & Ramia, G 2020, Why coronavirus impacts are devastating for international students in private rental housing (opens in a new window), The Conversation, 7 April

Morris, A, Hastings, C, Mitchell, E & Ramia, G 2020, The pandemic and international students in the private rental sector (opens in a new window), Parity, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 19-20.

Morris, A, Hastings, C, Mitchell, E, Ramia, G & Wilson, S 2020, "No-one would even know if I had died in my room”: coronavirus leaves international students in dire straits (opens in a new window), The Conversation, 13 August, 2020.

Moffatt, T, Moffatt, D & Mitchell, E 2020, Still Standing: A Life History of Tom and Dennis Moffatt, Outloud, Sydney.


Contact Dr Emma Mitchell