Ryan is a Reader in Urban Studies in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. His academic background is multidisciplinary and cuts across urban studies, sociology, geography, politics and criminology, but his research is very much focused on urban marginality. His research centres on understanding the dynamics of unequal power relations and their consequences in terms of urban marginalisation and stigmatisation, both contemporary and historical. This includes access to housing, work and the "outsider" positioning of certain groups, such as European Roma. Ryan also has a keen interest in the sociology of knowledge as a counter to the ahistorical nature of contemporary social science. He is a member of the Management Board of the international journal Housing Studies, a member of the Executive Committee of the UK Housing Studies Association, and a Fellow of the Norbert Elias Foundation.