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Sociology, Social Policy and CriminologyPart of Economic, Social and Political Science
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Dr Maria Villares-Varela BA, MA, PhD

Associate Professor in Sociology, Admissions Tutor (undergraduate)

Dr Maria Villares-Varela's photo

María Villares-Varela is an Associate Professor in Sociology and Admissions Tutor of the Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology Department at the University of Southampton, and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Her research explores work and employment relations in migrant firms, with a particular focus on gendered and classed-based experiences of work. Prior to her role at Southampton María was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), University of Birmingham, where she contributed to the Centre’s research in the area of migrant and ethnic minority entrepreneurship. Before that she was based at the International Migration Institute (IMI), University of Oxford, where she worked as a Research Officer in the projects ‘The Drivers and Dynamics of High-Skilled Migration’ and ‘The Determinants of International Migration’ (DEMIG). 

She has published her research in a wide range of journals. She is member of the Associate Board of journals such as Work, Employment & Society and Sociology.

She has been a visiting scholar at COMPAS (University of Oxford); IMES (University of Amsterdam); ISET (London Metropolitan University); School of Social Sciences and Law (Oxford Brookes); and ERCOMER (University of Utrecht).

Research interests

My current research interests relate to:

  • Migrant entrepreneurship
  • Work and employment relation in small firms
  • Family businesses
  • Gendered and class-based experiences of work
  • High-skilled migration
  • Latin American migration



Member of the Associate Board of the British Sociological Association (BSA) journal Sociology.

Member of the Associate Board of the British Sociological Association (BSA) journal Work Employment & Society.

Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), Aston Business School, Birmingham.

Fellow of the International Migration Institute Network (IMIn).

Associate Chair of the Gender and Enterprise Network (GEN). GEN is a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE). 

Member of the Work Futures Research Centre at the University of Southampton.


Research Projects:

2016-2019: ‘The impact of transnational Pentecostalism on migrant entrepreneurship in the UK’, funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Grants to 2016-2020.

Past projects:

2015-2017: Principal Investigator in the project 'Facilitating New Migrant Businesses Development: A Collaborative Approach’, co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Follow-on Fund, Higher Education Innovation Fund (UoB) and Ashley Housing Community Association (Birmingham).


Doctoral students under supervision:

Miloslawa Kwiatek - Entrepreneurship, Citizenship and Belonging in Times of Brexit Uncertainty: Experiences of Polish Migrant Women in the UK

Kasturi Bose - Construction of Social Enterprises in India

Carolynn Low - Refugee Entrepreneurship: Belonging and Social Inclusion for Refugees in the UK


SSPC Admissions Tutor

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Book Chapters



Working Papers

I am teaching on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, such as:

SOCI2031 Social Theory

SOCI2020 Qualitative Research: Foundations, Principles and Skills

SOCI6043 Understanding Social Change

SOCI6045 Development and Migration

I would be keen to supervise doctoral researchers in the following areas: migration; class-based and gender identities; work and employment; migrant/ethnic entrepreneurship; social enterprise; self-employment; high-skilled migration; intersectional experiences of work.

Dr Maria Villares-Varela
Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/4071

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