Michaela Benson BA PhD

Staff details

Position Reader
Department Sociology
Email michaela.benson (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7717 3110
Michaela Benson BA PhD

Michaela Benson joined Goldsmiths in 2013. An ethnographer and sociologist, over the course of her career, she has contributed to several fields of sociological enquiry at their intersections: migration and citizenship, social class, place and belonging. She is a leading figure in research on lifestyle migration, with an extensive record of publications in this field, most recently Lifestyle Migration and Colonial Traces in Malaysia and Panama (Palgrave, 2018), a collaboration with her long-term co-author Karen O’Reilly. She is currently a recipient of the British Academy’s Mid-Career Fellowship, for the project Britain and its overseas citizens: from decolonisation to Brexit. This builds on her career-long research expertise in contemporary British emigration, notably through her leadership of the BrExpats research project (2017-19), which examined Brexit and its impacts for the 1.2 million Britons resident in the EU-27 and her monograph The British in Rural France (Manchester University Press, 2011), a book subsequently shortlisted for the British Sociological Association’s Philip Abrams Memorial Prize (2012).

In January 2017 Michaela took over as Editor-in-Chief of The Sociological Review, Britain’s oldest sociology journal. She is also a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.


Michaela teaches research methods on both the UG and MSc programmes.

Areas of supervision

Michaela Benson is interested in supervising projects that fall within her research interests, but she is particularly keen to supervise research students who work on the intersections of class and space, elite and privileged migration trends. If you are interested in applying for a PhD under her guidance, please send her an email in the first instance outlining the project that you would be interested in conducting and some information about your prior educational achievements.

Current research students

  • Oliver Holtaway, Doing Community Ownership
  • Sayaka Mikoshiba, Belonging to the Third Culture - transnational migration, class formation, gender and race
  • Ilaria Pulini, Life in the London district of Kensington - change and continuity
  • Mario Trifuoggi, Negotiating porous space - urban informality and street life in central Naples
  • Zoe Walshe, Making a home on moving ground - Children and their families' experiences of housing insecurity in London today

Completed PhD students

  • Dr Valentina Alvarez-Lopez, (Re)producing a dignified life - an exploration of the production and negotiation of classed and gendered subjective through reproductive practices among pobladora women in Chile
  • Dr Mackenzie Paige Belt, Hosts and Domestic Workers - From Maintaining Social Distance to Creating Intimacy between Sri Lankan Migrants and Greek-Cypriots
  • Dr Sarah Burton, Exploring power and legitimacy in the making of sociological knowledge - a study of the craft of writing
  • Dr Kaoru Takahashi, Producing Japaneseness in Everyday Life - gendered biographies, locality and community-making among Japanese women in southeast London

Research Interests

Migration and citizenship; home, identity and belonging; social class; rural and urban sociology




Benson, Michaela and O'Reilly, Karen. 2018. Lifestyle migration and colonial traces in Malaysia and Panama. London: Palgrave. ISBN 978-1-137-51157-7

Bacque, Marie-Helene; Bridge, Gary; Benson, Michaela; Butler, Tim; Charmes, Eric; Fijalkow, Yankel; Jackson, Emma; Launay, Lydie and Vermeesch, Stephanie. 2015. The middle classes and the city: a study of Paris and London. Houdsmill, Basingstoke: Palgrave. ISBN 9781137332592

Benson, Michaela. 2011. The British in Rural France: Lifestyle Migration and the Ongoing Quest for a Better Way of Life. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0719082498

Edited Book

Benson, Michaela and Hamiduddin, Iqbal, eds. 2017. Self-Build homes: social discourse, experiences and directions. London: UCL Press. ISBN 978‑1‑911576‑87‑7

Benson, Michaela and Osbaldiston, Nicholas, eds. 2014. Understanding lifestyle migration: theoretical approaches to migration and the quest for a better way of life. Houdsmill, Basingstoke: Palgrave. ISBN 9781137328663

Benson, Michaela and Munro, Rolland, eds. 2011. Sociological routes and political roots. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 9781444338133

Benson, Michaela and O'Reilly, Karen, eds. 2009. Lifestyle migration: expectations, aspirations and experiences. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-7567-9

Lord, Michaela and Carter, Denise, eds. 2006. Engagements with learning and teaching in higher education: a view from anthropology. Birmingham: Higher Education Academy. ISBN 1902191307

Book Section

Benson, Michaela and Jackson, Emma. 2018. From class to gentrification and back again. In: , ed. The Handbook of Gentrification Studies. London: Edward Elgar, pp. 63-80. ISBN 9781785361739

Benson, Michaela. 2018. Constellations of privilege: the racialised and classed formations of Britons living in rural France. In: , ed. British Migration: Understanding contemporary British out-migration and its global impact. London: Rouledge.

O'Reilly, Karen and Benson, Michaela. 2015. Lifestyle Migration. In: Wendy Martin and Julia Twigg, eds. Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology. London: Routledge, pp. 420-427. ISBN 9781136221033

Benson, Michaela and Charsley, Katharine. 2015. From genuine to sham marriage: moral panic and the ‘authenticity’ of relationships. In: Michaela Benson, ed. Revisiting Moral Panic. Bristol: Policy Press. ISBN 9781447321859

Benson, Michaela. 2014. Negotiating privilege in and through lifestyle migration. In: Michaela Benson and Nick Osbaldiston, eds. Understanding Lifestyle Migration. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 47-69. ISBN 9781137328663

Benson, Michaela and Osbaldiston, Nick. 2014. New horizons in lifestyle migration research: theorizing movement, settlement and the search for a better way of life. In: Michaela Benson and Nick Osbaldiston, eds. Understanding Lifestyle Migration. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 1-25. ISBN 9781137328663

Benson, Michaela and Jackiewicz, Ed. 2013. Questioning ‘The Fight to Stay Put’ as an Explanation of the Impact of Lifestyle Migration and Residential Tourism Development. In: G Curti; J Craine and S Aitken, eds. The Fight to Stay Put: Social Lessons Through Media Imaginings of Urban Transformation and Change. Frankfurt: Franz Steiner Verlag, pp. 229-240. ISBN 978-3-515-10212-4

Benson, Michaela. 2010. ‘We’re not Expats; we are not Migrants; we are Sauliaçoise’: Laying Claim to Belonging in Rural France. In: B Bonisch-Brednich and C Trundle, eds. Local Lives: Migration and the Micro-politics of Place. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 67-84. ISBN 9781409401032

Benson, Michaela. 2009. A desire for difference: British lifestyle migration to southwest France. In: Michaela Benson and Karen O'Reilly, eds. Lifestyle Migration: Expectations, Aspirations and Experiences. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 121-136. ISBN 9780754675679

O'Reilly, Karen and Benson, Michaela. 2009. Lifestyle Migration: Escaping to the Good Life. In: Michaela Benson and Karen O'Reilly, eds. Lifestyle Migration: Expectations, Aspirations and Experiences. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 1-14. ISBN 9780754675679


Benson, Michaela. 2019. Brexit and the classed politics of bordering: the British in France and European belongings. Sociology, ISSN 0038-0385

Benson, Michaela. 2019. Who do governments represent? The history of voting rights for Brits abroad. Europe Street News,

Jackson, Emma; Benson, Michaela and Calafate-Faria, Francisco. 2019. Multi-sensory ethnography and vertical urban transformation: Ascending the Peckham Skyline. Social & Cultural Geography, ISSN 1464-9365

Benson, Michaela and Lewis, Chantelle. 2019. Brexit, British People of Colour in the EU-27 and everyday racism in Britain and Europe. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 42(13), pp. 2211-2228. ISSN 0141-9870

Benson, Michaela and Jackson, Emma. 2017. Making the Middle Classes on Shifting Ground? Residential Status, Performativity and Middle-Class Subjectivities in Contemporary London. British Journal of Sociology, 68(2), pp. 215-233. ISSN 0007-1315

Benson, Michaela. 2016. Deconstructing Belonging in Lifestyle Migration: Tracking the Emotional Negotiations of the British in Rural France. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 19(5), pp. 481-494. ISSN 1367-5494

Benson, Michaela and O'Reilly, Karen. 2016. From Lifestyle Migration to Lifestyle in Migration: Categories, concepts and ways of thinking. Migration Studies, 4(1), pp. 20-37. ISSN 2049-5838

Benson, Michaela. 2015. Class, Race, Privilege: Structuring the Lifestyle Migrant Experience in Boquete, Panama. Journal of Latin American Geography, 14(1), pp. 19-37. ISSN 1548-5811

Benson, Michaela. 2015. Lifestyle migration: from the state of the art to the future of the field. Two Homelands, 42, pp. 9-23. ISSN 0353-6777

Jackson, Emma and Benson, Michaela. 2014. Neither ‘Deepest, Darkest Peckham’ nor ‘Run-of-the-Mill’ East Dulwich: The Middle Classes and their ‘Others’ in an Inner-London Neighbourhood. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38(4), pp. 1195-1210. ISSN 03091317

Benson, Michaela; Bridge, Gary and Wilson, Deborah. 2014. School Choice in London and Paris - A Comparison of Middle-class Strategies. Social Policy & Administration, ISSN 01445596

Benson, Michaela. 2014. Trajectories of middle-class belonging: The dynamics of place attachment and classed identities. Urban Studies, pp. 1-16. ISSN 0042-0980

Benson, Michaela and Jackson, Emma. 2013. Place-making and Place Maintenance: Practices of Place and Belonging among the Middle Classes. Sociology, 47(4), pp. 793-809. ISSN 0038-0385

Benson, Michaela. 2013. Living the ‘Real’ Dream in La France Profonde: Lifestyle Migration, Social Distinction, and the Authenticities of Everyday Life. Anthropological Quarterly, 86(2), pp. 501-525. ISSN 0003-5491

Benson, Michaela. 2013. Postcoloniality and Privilege in New Lifestyle Flows: The Case of North Americans in Panama. Mobilities, 8(3), pp. 313-330. ISSN 1745-0101

Charsley, Katharine; van Hear, Nick; Benson, Michaela and Storer, Brooke. 2012. Marriage-related Migration to the UK. International Migration Review, 46(4), pp. 861-890. ISSN 0197-9183

Charsley, Katharine and Benson, Michaela. 2012. Marriages of Convenience and Inconvenient Marriages: Regulating Spousal Migration to Britain. Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law, 26(1), pp. 10-26. ISSN 17467632

Benson, Michaela. 2012. How culturally-significant imaginings are translated into lifestyle migration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 38(10), pp. 1681-1696. ISSN 1369-183X

Benson, Michaela. 2011. Landscape, imagination and experience: processes of emplacement among the British in rural France. The Sociological Review, 58, pp. 61-77. ISSN 0038-0261

Benson, Michaela. 2011. The movement beyond (lifestyle) migration: mobile practices and the constitution of a better way of life. Mobilities, 6(2), pp. 221-235. ISSN 1745-0101

Benson, Michaela. 2010. Landscape, Imagination and Experience: Processes of Emplacement among the British in Rural France. The Sociological Review, 58(S2), pp. 61-77. ISSN 0038-0261

Benson, Michaela. 2010. The context and trajectory of lifestyle migration: the case of the British residents of southwest France. European Societies, 12(1), pp. 45-64. ISSN 1461-6696

Benson, Michaela and O'Reilly, Karen. 2009. Migration and the search for a better way of life: a critical exploration of lifestyle migration. The Sociological Review, 57(4), 608 -625. ISSN 0038-0261

Benson, Michaela and Carter, Denise. 2008. Nothing in Return? Distinctions between Gift and Commodity in Contemporary Societies. Anthropology in Action, 15(3), pp. 1-7. ISSN 0967201X


Lewis, Chantelle; Regis, Tissot; Ofori-Addo, George and Benson, Michaela. 2019. Surviving Society - Episode 46: Michaela Benson | Retireiving Emigration Histories.

Benson, Michaela and Jackson, Emma. 2018. Above Street Level Podcasts.

Benson, Michaela. 2017. The Brexit Brits Abroad Podcast.

Benson, Michaela. 2016. Reporting on self build on Thinking Allowed - 23/03/16.


Benson, Michaela. 2019. Britons living in EU countries ‘denied democracy’ in UK ‘Brexit election’.

Benson, MC. 2017. Michaela Benson - Brexit Podcast - What Brits in France think about Brexit.


Benson, Michaela and Morris, Tom. 2019. Brexit Brits Abroad Animations.

Printed Ephemera

Jackson, Emma and Benson, Michaela. 2018. Above Street Level.

Benson, Michaela. 2016. Beyond Grand Designs: everyday stories of selfbuild.


Benson, Michaela. 2020. Brexit and the British in France. Project Report. Goldsmiths, University of London, London.

Benson, Michaela; Bica, Mihai Calin; Desira, Christopher; Erdunast, Paul; Masri, Nicole; Persey, Ollie; Sumption, Madeleine; Wilkins, Hannah; Yong, Adrienne; York, Sheona; Zagrodniczek, Katarzyna and Zarkovic, Maja. 2019. Brexit’s Effect on Citizens, Human Rights & Immigration. Working Paper. City Law School Working Paper Series, City, University of London.

Benson, Michaela; O'Reilly, Karen and Collins, Katherine. 2018. What does Brexit mean for UK citizens living in the EU27? Talking citizens' rights with UK citizens across the EU27. Project Report. Goldsmiths, University of London, London.

Benton, Meghan; Ahad, Aliyyah; Benson, Michaela; Collins, Katherine; McCarthy, Helen and O'Reilly, Karen. 2018. Next Steps: Implementing a Brexit Deal for UK Citizens Living in the EU-27. Project Report. Migration Policy Institute Europe, Brussels.

Benson, Michaela. 2017. What does Brexit mean for British citizens living in the EU27? Talking Brexit with the British in France. Project Report. Goldsmiths, University of London, London.

Charsley, Katharine; van Hear, Nick; Benson, Michaela and Storer, Brooke. 2011. Marriage-Related Migration to the UK. Project Report. Home Office, London.

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