Matt Patterson



Contact information

Phone number

Office: 403.220.5037


Office: SS916


Educational Background

Doctorate Sociology, University of Toronto, 2015

M.A. Sociology, University of Toronto, 2007

B.A. Sociology, University of Waterloo, 2006


I am an urban sociologist whose research examines the relationship between cities and culture. In particular, I am interested in uncovering the ways that place characteristics such as density, demographics, and urban design influence the emergence of distinct cultural practices, products, and institutions. I have pursued this research through studies of museum development, the emergence of arts districts, and the economic and social impacts of iconic architectural projects or "starchitecture". Currently my main focus is on the role of cultural planning and placemaking projects within North American Chinatowns.


Participation in university strategic initiatives


Course number Course title Semester
SOCI453 Cities and Culture: Chinatowns Winter 2023, Winter 2019
SOCI631/731 Graduate Seminar in Sociological Theory Winter, 2024, Winter 2023, Winter 2022, Winter 2020, Fall 2017
SOCI353 Urban Sociology Taught annually
SOCI331 Classical Sociological Theory Fall 2022, Fall 2018
SOCI401.56 Sociology of Culture Winter 2021, Winter 2019
SOCI333 Contemporary Sociological Theory Winter 2021
SOCI653 Graduate Seminar in Urban Sociology Fall 2020
SOCI680 Major Research Paper Seminar Spring/Summer 2023


The Politics of Placemaking in Chinatown

The COVID19 pandemic has hit North American Chinatowns particularly hard, disproportionately affecting local businesses and sparking sometimes violent anti-Asian racism. These acute threats add to several longer term challenges facing Chinatowns including gentrification and demographic shifts among Chinese people in North America. In response to these challenges, "Save Chinatown" movements have emerged across the continent, often turning to cultural planning and placemaking strategies aimed at protecting the unique social and cultural characteristics of Chinatowns.

This project investigates both how Chinatowns have been changing physically and demographically, as well as how Chinatown communities are developing plans and policies aimed at guiding the trajectories of their neighbourhoods. To do so, the project combines semi-structured interviews with community activists, local artists, members of business improvement associations, city planners, and real estate developers (N ≈ 60), an analysis of Chinatown planning documents, and a survey of real estate development projects built within Chinatowns in the last two decades.

Through this research, we aim to support the work of Chinatown communities, identify successful cultural and preservation policies, and advance sociological understandings of the co-construction of race and place.


  • The Politics of Placemaking in Chinatown., Transdisciplinary Scholarship Connector Grant, University of Calgary; $17,000.00, 2023-24 (Principal Investigator). 2023
  • Quality in Canada’s Built Environment: Roadmaps to Equity, Social Value and Sustainability., SSHRC Partnership Grant $2,496,780.00, 2022-27 (Co-Investigator). 2022
  • The Politics of Placemaking in Chinatown., SSHRC Insight Development Grant $71,438.00, 2021-23 (Principal Investigator). 2021
  • Culture and Identity in Chinatown, Calgary, City of Calgary $26,461.50, 2019-20 (Principal Investigator). 2019
  • The Social and Environmental Implications of Smart Cities: A Global Comparative Research Agenda., University of Calgary Human Dynamics Research Strategy Fund $150,000.00, 2016-18 (Co-Investigator). 2016