Ryan Powell

Department of Urban Studies and Planning


Ryan Powell
+44 114 222 6182

Full contact details

Ryan Powell
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Room D11d
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

I joined the Department of Urban Studies and Planning in September 2016 as Reader in Urban Studies and I am the Department’s Director of Research. Prior to joining USP I worked for 14 years at the interdisciplinary Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University. I was awarded a BA in Economics and Public Policy from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2002 and I subsequently studied part-time for an MA in Human Geography (distinction) at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2006.

My academic background and orientation is multidisciplinary and cuts across urban studies, sociology, geography and politics, but my research is focused on urban marginality.  I have always worked in a genuinely interdisciplinary environment and benefited greatly from exposure to a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches.  I have worked on studies for the EU, ESRC, JRF, the Big Lottery Fund, DWP, CLG, Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government, Welsh Government, regional bodies, and various local authorities and charitable organisations.

I am a member of the Management Board of the international journal Housing Studies, Co-Editor of the international journal Human Figurations: Long-term Perspectives on the Human Condition and a Fellow of the Norbert Elias Foundation.

Research interests

The central theme of my research is seeking to combine empiricism and theory in understanding the socio-dynamics of unequal power relations and their consequences in terms of urban marginalisation, both contemporary and historical. This includes access to housing and employment as well as wider questions of citizenship, urbanization, and the stigmatisation of "outsider" groups.

This reflects a commitment to striving for an objective understanding of the development of contemporary society and its unequal outcomes, alongside an explicit engagement with public policy and the challenges it faces. By extension, this often entails the exposure of policy "myths" and critique of the inadequacy of current conceptualisations.  A distinguishing aspect of my research is sensitivity to a long-term perspective in terms of capturing the dynamic and intergenerational development of human societies and the cities they produce.

Presently I am working on two EU2020 projects, centred on advancing our understanding of migrant “integration” within the EU, with Sheffield colleagues in Sociological Studies and various European partners.

Current and recent research projects



  • Flint J & Powell R (2019) Class, Ethnicity and State in the Polarized Metropolis Putting Wacquant to Work. Springer. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


Book reviews


  • Robinson D, Hickman P, Casey R, Green S & Powell R (2007) Understanding Housing Demand. Learning From Rising Markets In Yorkshire And The Humber RIS download Bibtex download
Teaching activities

My primary teaching focus is on urban marginality, housing issues and the challenges facing cities and publics in the contemporary period.  Housing is approached as a lens through which to understand a wide array of urban inequalities, antagonisms and environmental challenges.  Yet is also a key field for innovative solutions, radical collectives, and alternative readings of universal concepts like home, shelter, dwelling, neighbourhood and sustainable city.  Housing is therefore a site of struggle and contestation, of technological advancement and exploitation, a source of self-worth and stigmatization, and a potential anchor for alternative ways of inhabiting and orienting ourselves in an increasingly complex, interdependent and dynamic urban context.  Effective housing policies require solutions across Global North and South

I teach on the following modules:

  • TRP111, Cities
  • TRP130, Housing, Home and Neighbourhood
  • TRP 335, Housing Policy and Governance
  • TRP4161/6211, Issues in Housing
PhD supervision

I welcome enquiries from research students but am particularly interested in supervising research in the following broad areas: Gypsy-Traveller and Roma stigmatisation and marginalisation; housing and inequalities; youth transitions and mental health; the government of marginality.

I am Primary Supervisor for the following research students:

  • Abdulla Difalla: Toward a relational understanding of informal areas in Saudi Arabia (2nd Supervisor: Melanie Lombard)
  • MinKi Jeong: Refractive spatialisation and gentrification in Seoul (2nd Supervisor: Ed Ferrari)
  • Jeni Vine: Building cohesive neighbourhoods: conflict and rank awareness (2nd Supervisor: Paula Meth)