Empowering Cities of Migration: new methods for citizen involvement and socio-spatial integration

The Empowering Cities of Migration Project (EMPOWER) will empower citizens to work with migration, housing and urban planning specialists to co-design and co-deliver new genderaware approaches for housing and integration in urban areas. Through innovative mixed-method collaborative research, approaches in three European cities – Bochum (Germany), Gothenburg (Sweden) and Birmingham (UK), Community Researchers will be upskilled to co-create new knowledge on the housing challenges and needs of hidden groups and communities. EMPOWER will also explore the impact of COVID-19 on housing governance issues and establish a new Community of Practice for migrant integration.

Results and outcomes

Final report: Empowering cities of migration, new methods for citizen involvement and socio-spatial integration – Findings from the EMPOWER project

The EMPOWER project highlighted how female residents in three different countries (UK, Germany and Sweden) were being empowered through the development and utilisation of a variety of place-making strategies in superdiverse neighbourhoods. There was considerable evidence of attempts to ‘reclaim the city’ through the use of different community-led infrastructures, local practices of mobilisation and informal engagement and participation practices and micropolitical strategies.

The project focused on developing and co-creating new methods of knowledge production to (1) create a new democratic dialogue, (2) improve engagement in decision-making and (3) help facilitate gender-aware integration and empowerment. To this end, the use of Community Researchers (CRs) was integral. The CR model engaged and empowered local communities and residents in the research process and gave a voice and influence for those whose skills and experiences are often overlooked by mainstream research.

Here are some key take aways from the project:

  • The use of a gender lens was crucial as it drew attention to the social norms, hierarchies and unequal power structures that may impact integration, inclusion, and empowerment of individuals.
  • A diversity perspective helped to identify the intersectionality of issues such as legal status, gender, country of birth, employment status, duration in the neighbourhood etc. on shaping processes of inclusion and empowerment.
  • The project highlighted the structural inequalities and the discriminatory practices of housing landlords with reference to rents, housing conditions, insecure tenancies, and housing access, and which reinforce and perpetuate socio-spatial segregation.
  • Through the application of ‘Digital Participatory Spatial Analysis’ techniques to new contexts of diversity, EMPOWER also linked residents’ perceptions and experiences to policy interventions.
  • A new ‘Theory of Change’ framework identified how integration and empowerment may become a reality in superdiverse neighbourhood settings.
  • EMPOWER provided new insights into the ways in which Civil society organisations help to secure integration and empowerment in more vulnerable areas.

Read more about the EMPOWER project here.


Duration: April 2021- March 2022
Contact: Professor Simon Pemberton
E-mail: s.pemberton@keele.ac.uk
Budget: 290899 Euros
Partners: Keele University – School of Geography. University of Gothenburg – Dept of Sociology and Work Science, University of Applied Sciences Bochum, IFAK e.V., Father Hudsons Care (Brushstrokes community Project), University of Birmingham, Bergsjöns Församlinn




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