Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Dr Angharad Beckett

Associate Professor of Political Sociology

Following undergraduate studies at Durham University I studied for my PhD at the University of Sheffield.  Prior to my arrival at Leeds in 2007, I had been a lecturer at the Universities of Nottingham and Durham.

My central concern is the conceptualisation and exploration of the steps required to establish conditions within society that enable people to be active citizens and to play a full part in the development of just and sustainable societies. Funded research includes the ESRC grant (as PI): 'Disability Equality in English Primary Schools' (completed 2009) and the Leverhulme Grant (as Co-I) 'Designing for Inclusive Play: facilitating meaningful play between disabled and non-disabled children'. The latter research project involves collaboration with colleagues in Engineering. I am keen to develop interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to issues of social concern.  

I was the founder, and between 2006-2013, convenor of the joint BSA/SPA Study Group for the Sociology of Social & Public Policy. I am currently a member of the Centre for Disability Studies and member of the Executive Committee for the Centre for Health, Technologies and Social Practice.

I am a founding member of the White Rose Studies in Ableism collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Sheffield and York.

Recently I have become a member of the management committee of an International and transdisciplinary Cost Action, representing the UK in this regard. This EU funded project entitled: Play for Children with Disabilities (LUDI) aims to increase awareness of the importance of providing disabled children with the opportunity to play and ensuring equity in their exercise of the right to play. Information regarding this network can be found at: http://www.cost.eu/TD1309

Research Interests

My core research interests are as follows:

(1) Theorising citizenship and the nature of social and political engagement.

(2) Understanding social movements and practices of resistance.

(3) Disability Politics.

(4) Anti-oppressive education/pedagogy, in particular ‘post-conventional’ pedagogies.

I am also interested in developments in Social Theory, in particular the ‘Practice Turn’ and innovations in qualitative methodology and methods.


My teaching focuses upon Citizenship Theory, Disability Studies, Social Theory and  Qualitative Research Methods. I currently convene the undergraduate (UG) level 2 core Social Theory module entitled 'Central Problems in Sociology' and the UG level 3 module 'Citizenship, Identity & Social Change'. I also contribute to teaching on the MA Social Research and MA Disability Studies.

PhD Supervision

I am interested in supervising promising PhD students in the following areas.

  • Citizenship Studies - theoretical and/or empirical investigations and explorations.
  • Social Movement Studies - again, theoretical and/or empirical studies.
  • Disability Politics in the UK or elsewhere..
  • Studies in Ableism.
  • Anti-oppressive education/pedagogy.

Current PhD students

I am delighted to announce that: in 2013, one of my students Rob Rhodes-Kubaik successfully completed his PhD. The topic for his thesis was: The history and development of human rights movements in south-east Europe: a case study of LGBT social movements in Serbia. In 2014, my student Nicola Horsley was awarded her PhD on the topic of 'Citizenship Education, Equality and Diversity: exploring responses to citizenship education in English state secondary schools. Nicola's PhD was funded via an ESRC CASE Studentship in collaboration with The Citizenship Foundation, London. Most recently, in 2015, my student Deborah Fenney was awarded her PhD on the topic of 'Disabled people and pro-environmental behaviour: sustainability and accessibility.' Her PhD was funded by the ESRC.

Key Publications


Journal Articles

  • Beckett AE (2013) “Non-disabled children’s ideas about disability and disabled people.”, British Journal of Sociology of Education.

    Author URL [www.tandfonline.com]

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    This article discusses findings from an Economic and Social Research Council-funded study exploring non-disabled children’s ideas about disability. This represents the first in-depth sociological investigation of children’s ideas about disabled people as members of wider society. Data are presented from focus group discussions with children aged 6–7 and 10–11. The article draws upon William H. Sewell Jr’s theorizing of structure and agency and, in particular, employs his concept of ‘cultural schemas’. The article explores non-disabled children’s enactment of various cultural schemas relating to disability and argues that although they are capable of questioning, even transforming, schemas, they are primarily engaged in enacting a series of ‘hegemonic’ schemas that maintain their privileged position as non-disabled people. The article concludes by urging schools and educationalists to do more to encourage non-disabled children to think differently and positively about disabled people

  • Beckett AE (2013) “Anti-oppressive pedagogy and disability: possibilities and challenges”, Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research. : 1-19.

  • Beckett AE; Buckner L (2012) “Promoting positive attitudes towards disabled people: definition of, rationale and prospects for anti-disablist education.”, British Journal of Sociology of Education. 33.6: 873-891.

    Author URL [www.tandfonline.com]

  • Beckett AE; Ellison N; Barrett S; Shah S (2010) “Away with the Fairies? Disability within primary-age children's literature.”, Disability and Society. 25.3: 373-386.

    Beckett is first author for this article.

    Author URL [www.tandfonline.com]

    This article outlines the findings of a new study that explores the portrayal of disability within a sample of the primary‐age children's literature most readily available to UK schools. The kind of literature to which children are exposed is likely to influence their general perceptions of social life. How disability is handled by authors is therefore important from the standpoint of disability equality. Findings suggest that whilst there are some good examples of inclusive literature ‘out there’, discriminatory language and/or negative stereotypes about disability continue to be present in a range of more contemporary children's books. Clearly, more still needs to be done to ensure that schools and teachers are provided with information relating to the best examples of inclusion literature and efforts must continue to be made to inform authors, publishers and illustrators about how to approach the issue of disability.

  • Beckett AE (2009) “'Challenging disabling attitudes, building an inclusive society': Considering the role of education in encouraging non-disabled children to develop positive attitudes towards disabled people”, British Journal of Sociology of Education. 30.3: 317-329.

    In the United Kingdom, the introduction of the Disability Equality Duty 2006 has provided a new window of opportunity to promote the idea that education has a role to play in changing non-disabled children/young people's attitudes towards disabled people. This article explores the issues raised by the application of the Disability Equality Duty to English schools. The remainder of the article then seeks to 'map the territory' for future research into the role that education might play in challenging disabling attitudes and building an inclusive society. © 2009 Taylor & Francis.

  • Beckett A (2006) “Understanding Social Movements: theorising the disability movement in conditions of late modernity”, The Sociological Review. 54.4: 734-752.

  • Beckett A (2005) “Reconsidering citizenship in the light of the concerns of the UK disability movement”, Citizenship Studies. 9.4: 405-421.


  • Priestley M; Peason S; Beckett AE; Woodin S (2010) ANED country report on equality of educational and training opportunities for young disabled people.

    Author URL [www.disability-europe.net]

  • Beckett AE; Ellison N; Barrett S; Shah S; Buckner L; Byrne DS (2010) Disability Equality in English Primary Schools.

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