Disability Activism in Europe

Disability Activism in Europe: Young Disabled Activist's Views and Experiences is a research project that forges new understandings of disability activism, politics, and the resistance practices of young disabled activists across Europe. The project runs from October 2020 until March 2024. It is co-funded by the University of Leeds and the Leverhulme Trust. It is led by Dr Miro Griffiths.

It investigates the contemporary position of young disabled activists engaged in activism and social movements across Europe. It will offer insight into young disabled activist's contributions to disability politics, the barriers limiting their participation, and their vision for the future of disability activism. It will make original contributions to the fields of Disability Studies, Social Movement Studies, Youth Studies, and the Sociology of Resistance. Of particular note, it provides a still rare investigation into disabled people's social movements.

The project investigates: (a) young disabled activist's experiences across a range of cultural and political contexts beyond the UK; and (b) their aspirations for disability politics and inclusive societies across Europe. More specifically, the research explores young disabled activist's thoughts about: (a) the "problem" of dis/ability; (b) organising society to address disabling barriers; and (c) the role of disabled people's social movements in pursuing emancipation.

There are four phases of the research project:

(1) a survey exploring opportunities and challenges to young disabled activist’s participation in disabled people's social movements;

(2) interviews exploring opportunities and challenges to young disabled activist’s participation in disabled people's social movements plus their vision for an inclusive and accessible society;

(3) a “future laboratory” workshop supporting young disabled activists to imagine the role of disabled people's social movements in achieving such societies;

(4) production of a documentary film exploring youth participation in disabled people's social movements across Europe.

Project-related publications

  • Griffiths, M. (2023 November). “Disability, Childhood and Youth: Voice, Politics, and Solidarity.” UK Disability History Month, London.
  • Griffiths, M. (2023 November). “Disability, Childhood and Youth: Activism and Resistance.” Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum, Online.
  • Griffiths, M. (2023 September). “Personal Budgets and Direct Payments: Reflections from UK Implementation.” Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, Online.
  • Griffiths, M. (2023 July). “Accessibility and Affordability in Social Services Provision – Principles for a New Strategy.” European Network on Independent Living, Online.
  • Darke, P. and Griffiths, M. (2023 July). “Exploring Disability and Conceptualisations of the Home.” Historic England, Online. [Keynote].
  • Griffiths, M. (2023 July). “Young Disabled People’s Experiences of Activism, Participation & Resistance.” Youth Disability Advocacy and Research Network, Online. [Keynote].
  • Griffiths, M. (2022-November). " Conceptualising the Future of UK Disability Activism through Utopian, Retrotopian, and Heterotopian Configurations". European Sociological Association Mid-Term Conference of the Political Sociology Research Network, Lausanne.
  • Griffiths, M. (2020-October). "Archiving Activism: Young Disabled People's Views and Experiences of the Role of Archives in UK Disabled People's Movement". European Sociological Association Mid-Term Conference of the Political Sociology Research Network, Online.
  • Griffiths, M (2023 October). “Activism, the Academy, and Applicability: Disability Studies and Disability Politics”. University of Leeds Post Graduate Researcher Conference, Leeds. [Keynote].
  • Griffiths, M (2023 October). “Discrimination and Hate Crime within Football”. Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool. [Panel Session].
  • Griffiths, M (2023 June). “Young Disabled People’s Experiences, Opportunities, and Tensions Across European Disability Activism”. University of Galway, Galway. [Panel Session].
  • Griffiths, M. (2022 September). "Imagining Inclusive and Accessible Societies". European Network on Independent Living Freedom Drive, European Network on Independent Living, Brussels. [Keynote].
  • Griffiths, M. and Heumann, J. (2021 November). "Disability Activism, Resistance, and Realising Inclusive Societies". College of St Benedict and St John's University, Minnesota. [Panel Session].
  • Griffiths, M. (2021 May). "Self-Determination: A Journey Of Interdependency Not Self-Sufficiency". Erickson Third Edition International Conference on Disability and Adulthood, Online. [Keynote].

Publications and outputs

Haslett D, Griffiths M, Lupton D. 2023. Shifting power relations in disability sport and social activism research: an emancipatory approach. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. , pp. 1-18 

Griffiths M. 2023. Declare Independence : Independent Living, Oppositional Devices, and Heterotopias. International Journal of Disability and Social Justice. 3(1), pp. 24-41 

Griffiths M. 2022. Livin’ in the future: Conceptualising the future of UK disability activism through utopian, retrotopian and heterotopian configurations. Capital and Class. 

Griffiths M. 2022. Disabled youth participation within activism and social movement bases: An empirical investigation of the UK Disabled People’s Movement. Current Sociology. 

Griffiths M. 2023. Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime: Disability Youth Activism and the Pursuit for Inclusive Education. In: Slee R; Tierney R; Ercikan K (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Education (Fourth Edition). Elsevier

Griffiths M. 2022. UK Social Model of Disability and the Quest for Emancipation. In: Rioux MH; Viera J; Buettgen A; Zubrow E (eds.) Handbook of Disability. Springer

Griffiths M. 2020. Disability. In: Ellison N; Haux T (eds.) Handbook on Society and Social Policy. Edward Elgar, pp. 122-134

Project website