Research Interests

Sociology of Environment, SocialCapital, Climate Change, Resource and Eco-System Management, Community Resilience and Regional Development, Health and Well-Being, First Nations, New Institutional Analysis

Current Research

Dr. Matthews’ primary research interests focus on the relationship between social change and economic development at a community and regional level, and in assessing the ways in which public policy influences that relationship. In that research area he has published five books including, Communities in Decline; There’s No Better Place Than Here; The Creation of Regional Dependency; and Controlling Common Property. He has also published nearly 100 research papers. Dr. Matthews has also on-going research interests related to the sociology of health and the sociology of science. In this general area he has conducted research and published on: the social aspects of infertility and infertility treatment; social capital and blood donation; issues of risk perception and the social constructions of knowledge and the environment related to finfish aquaculture; and the social aspects of climate change adaptation.

Dr. Matthews’ current research focuses primarily around issues of social capital, community resilience, sustainable resource development, blood donation and climate change. He is the Principal Investigator of the Resilient Communities Project (funded by SSHRC), that is examining the relationship between social capital, community resilience, and economic development in coastal British Columbia communities (see He is also Principal Investigator of the Coastal Communities Project ( a Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) project (also funded by SSHRC) that is working with, and providing research capacity to, six civic communities and their adjacent First Nations in coastal British Columbia. In addition, Dr. Matthews leads several other research projects including: the C5 Project (funded by NRCan) dealing with the Co-Management of Climate Change in Coastal Communities ( the Canadian Blood Donor Research Project (funded by the Bayer Partnership Fund) that is examining the social capital basis of blood donation in Canada; and, the City of Whitehorse – Climate Change and Institutional Adaptive Capacity Project, funded through the Climate Adaptation and Vulnerability in Arctic Regions (CAVIAR) research network based at the University of Oslo and International Polar Year (IPY).

Journal Articles

(in press) Enns, Sandra, Todd Malinick, and Ralph Matthews. “It’s Not Only Who You Know, its Also Where They Are: Using the Position Generator to Investigate the Structure of Access to Socially Embedded Resources”, in Nan Lin and Bonnie H. Erickson (Eds.). Social Capital: Advances in Research. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

2007. Young, Nathan and Ralph Matthews. “Resource economies and neo-liberal experimentation: The reform of industry and community in rural British Columbia”, AREA: Journal of the Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers,. 39 (2): 176-185.

2007. Young, Nathan, and Ralph Matthews. “Experts’ Understanding of the Public: Knowledge Control in a Risk Controversy”. Public Understanding of Science, 16 (2): 123-144.

2006. Fiddler, Jay, Linda Hurd larke, Andre Smith and Ralph Matthews. “The Social Determinants of blood Donation: Preliminary Findings from an Ethnographic Study”, Experimental and Clinical Cardiology, 10 (1)

2006. Clarke, Laura Hurd, Anne Martin-Matthews, and Ralph Matthews. “The Continuity and Discontinuity of the Embodied Self in Infertility”. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 43(1): 95-113.

2005. Matthews, Ralph and Nathan Young (2005). “Development on the Margin – Development Orthodoxy and the Success of Lax Kw’Alaams, British Columbia”. Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development, 4(2): 95-103.

2005. Richmond, Chantelle A. M., Susan J. Elliott, Brian Elliott, and Ralph Matthews. “The Political Ecology of Health: Perceptions of Environment, Economy, Health and Well-Being among Namgis First Nation”. Health and Place, 11 (4): 349-365.

2003. Dorothee Schreiber, Ralph Matthews and Brian Elliott. “The Framing of Farmed Fish: Product, Efficiency and Technology”. The Canadian Journal of Sociology, 28 (2): 153-169.

Book Chapters

2007. Matthews, Ralph and Nathan Young. “Globalization and ‘Repositioning’ in British Columbia”, Chapter 61, pp. 64-66 in Lorne Tepperman and Harley Dickinson (Editors), Reading Sociology: Canadian Perspective. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press.

2007. Page, Justin, Sandra Enns, Todd Malinick and Ralph Matthews. Chapter 60, pp. 260-263 in “Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Investigating Resilience in B.C.’s Coastal Communities”. Lorne Tepperman and Harley Dickinson (Editors), Reading Sociology: Canadian Perspectives. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press.

2005. Matthews, Ralph and Rochelle Cote. “Understanding Aboriginal Policing in a Social Capital Context”, pp. 134-152 in Social Capital in Action – Thematic Policy Studies. Ottawa, CA: Government of Canada, Policy Research Initiative. Also published as, “Le Role des Services de Police Autochtones dans un contexte de Capital Social”. Pp. 149-170 en, Le capital social à l’oeuvre: Étude thématiques sur les politiques. Ottawa, CA: Projet de recherche sur les politiques.

2001. Anne Martin-Matthews and Ralph Matthews. “Living in time: Multiple timetables in couples’ experiences of infertility and its treatment”, in Kerry Daly (ed.), Minding the Time in Family Experience: Emerging Perspectives and Issues. New York, NY: JAI-Elsevier Science. pp. 111-134.

Technical Reports and Monographs Published

2006. The Social Implications of Ocean Management Strategies in Coastal British Columbia: An Overview. Commissioned Report by the Government of Canada, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans. Pp. 1-30.

2004. The Canadian Aquaculture Employment Study. Commissioned Report, by the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA); Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Office of the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development; and, Human Resources and Development Canada (HRDC). Pp. 1-113.

2001. Social and Economic Research Issues Related to Aquacultural Development in British Columbia. Report submitted to The Science Council of British Columbia as part of its initiative with respect to the development of a B.C. Aquaculture Research Trust. Pp. 1 – 32

1999. John Eyles, S. Elliott, J. Grondin, R. Matthews, K. Smoyer and D. Krewski. New Directions – New Dimensions for Environmental-Health Research in Canada. Position Paper submitted to the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

1999. Lisa Kidd, D. Ralph Matthews and Mark Sproule-Jones.. What We Think and Want for the Hamilton Harbour Environment: A Community Report. Hamilton, Ontario: Ecowise Tri-Council Eco-Research Program, McMaster University


Ph.D., M.A., University of Minnesota
B.A., Memorial University of Newfoundland

Other Affiliations

Faculty Associate, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia
Faculty Associate, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia
Faculty Associate, Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
Adjunct Professor, Centre for Environment and Population Health, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Griffith University, Australia.
Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, McMaster University