Matthew Marr

Associate Professor of Sociology

Global and Sociocultural Studies

Office: SIPA 323

Phone: 305.348.4004



 I am an urban ethnographer who researches how experiences of homelessness in the United States and Japan are driven and shaped by social contexts at multiple levels, from the global to the individual. My first book is Better Must Come: Exiting Homelessness in Two Global Cities (Los Angeles and Tokyo) published by Cornell University Press.

I am currently leading the “US-Japan Service Hub Network,” an intellectual exchange project with scholars and practitioners working in service hubs in the US and Japan. Service hubs are neighborhoods where street homelessness, housing programs, aid efforts, and social movements concentrate. We are exploring how they can better serve as “refuge neighborhoods” that provide multiple safety nets helping marginalized people meet survival, social, spiritual, and civic needs. This project is funded by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

Here are links to the Neighborhoods of Refuge PhotoVoice digital gallery and a short film from a collaborative project in Overtown, Miami.

I am also a founding board member of the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity (MCARE), an organization that aims to advance racial equity through advocating and organizing on issues of homelessness, health care, and civil rights.

Recent research article on public assistance and homelessness

Hiroshi Goto, Dennis Culhane, and Matthew D. Marr (2022). “Why Street Homelessness Has Decreased in Japan: A Comparison of Public Assistance in Japan and the U.S.,” European Journal of Homelessness (early online)

Recent research articles on spirituality and homelessness

Matthew D. Marr and Natália Marques da Silva (2022). “Religion’s Roles in Community Integration After Homelessness: Supportive Housing Residents’ Uses of Spiritual Practices amid Trauma, Discrimination, and Stigma,” Housing Studies (early online)

Marr, Matthew D. (2021).“The Ohaka (Grave) Project: Post-secular Social Service Delivery and Necropolitics in San’ya, Tokyo,Ethnography, 22(1):88-110.

Recent research articles on service hub neighborhoods

Marr, Matthew D. (2021) “Finding Security in Skid Row: Organizational and Social Ties in Service Hubs of the United States and Japan,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 693(1):301-320.

Geoff DeVerteuil, Matthew D. Marr, and Johannes Kiener (2022). “More Than Bare-Bones Survival? From the Urban Margins to the Urban Commons,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers (early online)

Geoff DeVerteuil, Matthew D. Marr, and Johannes Kiener (2022). “Managing Service Hubs in Miami and Osaka: Between Capacious Commons and Meagre Street-Level Bureaucracy,” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space (early online)

Recent research article/chapter on gentrification

Marr, Matthew D. (2020). “Gentrification, Machizukuri, and Ontological (In)security: “Bottom Up” Redevelopment and the “Cries” of Residents in Kamagasaki, Osaka,” pp. 291- 313 in Jerome Krase and Judith N. DeSena (Eds.) Gentrification around the World: Gentrifiers and the Displaced. New York, NY: Palgrave.

マー・マシュー (2018).「ジェントリフィケーションと住まいの状況と不安:西成特区構想と地域の変化に対する釜ヶ崎住民の叫び空間社会地理思想 21:3-14.

Although I am now in my 50s, I still try to skateboard and make reggae mixes.


Twitter: @mmarrvelous


Areas of Expertise

Urban Sociology, Inequality, Homelessness, Globalization, US/Japan Comparative Research, Qualitative Research Methodology, Public Sociology


PhD, UCLA, 2007