Marta-Marika Urbanik, Ph.D

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Sociology Dept


Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Sociology Dept


Area of Study / Keywords

homelessness gangs drugs crime violence


I am an urban ethnographer, specializing in gangs, neighbourhood redevelopment, and inner-city policing in the Canadian context. My research interests include issues pertaining to gangs and gang violence, the effects of neighbourhood redevelopment on criminal processes, neighbourhood 'beefs' and violence, the street code on social media, police-community relations (including police misconduct), and research methods.  

I completed my Ph.D in the Department of Sociology, with a specialization in criminology at the University of Alberta. My doctoral research analyzed the effects of neighbourhood revitalization on gangs, criminal structures, and violence within Canada's oldest and largest social housing project (Regent Park).My doctoral work received multiple awards, including the Social Science and Humanities Research Council's (SSHRC) Joseph-Armand Bombardier award, the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship (the most prestigious award at the University of Alberta), the Dorothy J. Killam Award, and the University of Alberta's President's Doctoral Prize of Distinction, among others. I completed my Masters degree at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto. 

I am the Acting Director of the BA Criminology Program, and the Book Review Editor of Canada's flagship sociology journal, The Canadian Journal of Sociology

I routinely present my research at national and international conferences, including at venues of the American Society for Criminology (Washington, Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco), the Western Society of Criminology (Hawaii), Canadian Sociological Association (Calgary), the American Sociological Association (Montreal), the Eurogang Network (Sweden, Netherlands), the Surveillance Studies Network (Barcelona), and the Canada Research Ethics Board meeting (Toronto). In addition, I have been an invited speaker at the University of Toronto, the University of Calgary, and Athabasca University.

My work is published in multiple international venues, including: The British Journal of Criminology, Qualitative Sociology, The International Journal of Drug Policy, the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and Feminist Criminology, and appears in several edited book collections.

I also routinely share my expertise via media platforms, including television, newspaper interviews, and podcasts.


I am currently involved in a number of research projects:

1) An exploration of resident experiences of invasive policing practices in Toronto's inner-city 

2) An exploration and comparison of the neighbourhood-effects of the opening of Safe Consumption Sites in Edmonton and Calgary 

3) An examination of crime and violence in South West Edmonton 

4) An exploration of prison gangs in Western Canada

5) An examination of the role that social media plays in perpetuating the street code


Aside from my commitment to research, I am deeply committed to excellence in teaching. I teach the following courses: 

- Criminology (SOC 225)

- Sociology of Deviance and Conformity ( SOC 224)

- Gangs and Violence (SOC 424)

I also supervise Field Placements in Criminology (SOC 399/499) students, undergraduate and graduate research assistants, and graduate students 


SOC 224 - Sociology of Deviance and Conformity

Processes involved in defining behaviour patterns as deviant; factors that influence conformity and change; examination of behaviour patterns such as sexuality, alcoholism, drug use, and selected mental and physical disabilities; public reaction to such behaviour.

SOC 302 - Topics in Sociology

Prerequisite: SOC 100 or consent of the instructor. Note: Consult the Department for any additional prerequisites. Course may be taken more than once if topic(s) vary.

SOC 424 - Gangs and Violence

The sociological examination of gangs and gang violence and their effects on society. Prerequisite: SOC 225 or consent of instructor.

SOC 525 - Seminar in Criminal Justice

SOC 900A - Directed Research Project

SOC 900B - Directed Research Project

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