Empowering Cities of Migration: new methods for citizen involvement and socio-spatial integration (EMPOWER).

Research project
Active research
Project size
845 146
Project period
2020 - 2022
Project owner
Department of Sociology and Work Science

Short description

The project EMPOWER is a collaboration between universities, research institutes, local authorities, urban and housing planners and civil society organisations in Sweden (Gothenburg), England (Birmingham) and Germany (Bochum). The overall aim is to establish a new International Community of Practice and a Theory of Change to more effectively engage and empower citizens in cities and neighbourhoods experiencing population change, socio- spatial segregation and housing challenges. We build on previous research and networks to empower citizens to work with migrant-focused NGOs, housing organisations and urban planners in co-designing new gender-aware approaches for housing and integration in urban areas.

The EMPOWER project recruits, trains and upskills a European network of Community Researchers, with local knowledge of diverse neighbourhoods in order to develop a better understanding of migrants’ experiences of and strategies for integration in their own localities. The project will facilitate better gender aware methods and knowledge for integration through engaging migrant women in shaping service provision.

The EMPOWER project brings together previous research on citizens’ involvement in civil society, on co-producing housing and community health solutions, participatory approaches to migrant and stakeholder engagement and on research exploring the nature and location of accommodation for new and permanently settled migrants. EMPOWER responds to the UN goals of sustainable cities and communities.

The Swedish team biographies below and photos

Project Leader

Gabriella Elgenius

Photo of Gabriella Elgenius

Gabriella Elgenius is Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Gothenburg since 2014 and was previously in the UK, at the University of Oxford and the University of London. Gabriella research is on integration and civil society in vulnerable and diverse areas in Sweden and the UK, using mixed methods and comparative qualitative designs. Gabriella has worked with community researchers in the UK and is pleased to be given the opportunity to do so in Sweden too. Gabriella represents the University of Gothenburg in the university network of a total of six universities in Europe working to promote Citizen Science, community research and the Community of Practice (CoP).

Project Collaborators

Tone Försund

Photo of Tone Försund

Tone Försund has been working as a drama pedagogue and behavioral scientist in Sweden since the beginning of the 1990s. Tone participated in the training phase of the Community Researchers in Sweden (Medborgarforskare) and contributed with practical exercises and role play that prepared for the interview phase, and practice interviewing. Tone has a background in adult education.


Project Partner: AnnSofie Olsson

Photo of AnnSofie Olsson

AnnSofie Olsson is the project partner for Sweden and works as the Deacon of the Swedish Church in Bergsjön, awarded for its working methods and transformation into a community centre. AnnSofie has long standing collaborations with local civil society organizations.

She is the Secretary for the Bergsjön’s Study Centre and Homework Association. AnnSofie holds a MA in Social Work from Lunds University and has previously held multiple roles in the Swedish Social Services, including Refugee Reception and Family Support.


Research Assistant: Amanj Aziz

Photo of Amanj Aziz

Amanj Aziz has a MA in Sociology at the University of Gothenburg and has been a research assistant at Gothenburg University since 2019 for projects on civil society in diverse areas. Amanj has been engaged in social work for over 10 years and has worked in both the private and public sectors with social issues including human rights, social vulnerability, housing and inequality. He has written several reports on race and racism.


Community Researchers / Citizen Researchers in Sweden

Faten Atie

Photo of Faten Atie

Fatien Atien is conducting interviews in Arabic and Swedish and distributes the project's digital survey in these language groups. She is particularly interested in working to promote women's rights and learning more about women's experiences in this project.


Jilla Faraji

Photo of Jilla Faraji

Jilla Faraji interviews in Dari, Kurdish, Persian and Swedish, and distributes the project's digital survey in these language groups. Jilla works for the civil society in Bergsjön Gothenburg to create meeting places and to promote democracy, equality and human rights.


Uba Hersi

Photo of Uba Hersi

Uba Hersi is interviewing in Somali and Swedish and distributes the project's digital survey in these language groups. Uba works for the civil society in Bergsjön and is part of the parent association and board of Bergsjön’s Study Centre and Homework Association to provide after school homework activities for children and adults locally.


Samira Hussein

Photo of Samira Hussein

Samira Hussein is transcribing interviews in Somali and Swedish and distributes the digital survey in these language groups. Samira is the coordinator for a school-community partnership in Bergsjön and engaged in its civil society.


Sarah Nyangena

Photo of Sarah Nyangena

Sarah Nyangena interviews in English, Swedish and Swahili, and distributes the project's digital survey in these language groups. Sarah works for the housing company Balder on social issues. Sarah is involved in civil society in Bergsjön and works with the association Navet, a local resource centre and meeting place for cooperation, democracy, community, culture and education. Navet works to promote a positive development of the area.


Omanilaye Ogbowuokara

Omanilaye Ogbowuokara photo

Omanilaye Ogbowuokara is a community researcher who interviews in English and Swedish. She also distributes the project's digital surveys in these language groups. Omanilaye is an advocate for accessible and local civil society.


Juhaina Swaid

Photo of Juhaina Swaid

Juhaina Swaid conducts interviews and transcribes interviews in Arabic, Swedish and English. She also translates to and from these languages and distributes the project’s survey in these language groups. Juhaina is especially interested in women’s empowerment and as key to health, economic growth, and political participation.


Arfi Yosuf

Photo of Arfi Yosuf

Arfi Yosuf has a preschool teacher degree and wrote her BA thesis on equality in the preschool. Arfi interviews in Somali and Swedish for the Rethinking Integration project and distributes the Empower project's digital survey in these language groups. Arfi works for civil society in Gothenburg and is involved in the Bergsjön Study Centre and Homework Help Association which provides homework services for children and adults.


Ahmed Hassan

Photo of Ahmed Hassan

Ahmed Hassan interviews in Somali and Swedish and collects responses to the project's digital survey in these language groups.Ahmed works for civil society in Bergsjön and is a member of the board of Bergsjön's Study Centre Läxhjälpen and the Collaboration for Fathers.Ahmed works to promote local participation and collaboration between local actors and is one of the initiators to the meeting place called “Bergsjön Möts.