Josephine Sirotkin

Josephine Sirotkin


My research aims to generate further understanding about the ways in which different care practices can enable or prevent the mistreatment of disabled people in residential care in England. Mistreatment, in this study, refers to various actions or inactions (such as violence and neglect) that can harm or risk harming the disabled person.

This research wishes to gain an in-depth understanding into why mistreatment occurs and how we can work to prevent it.


I have been at the University of Leeds since I began my undergraduate degree (BA Sociology) in 2012. Here, my passion for disability studies developed and I began to think about disability and impairment sociologically.

Once I finished my undergraduate degree, in 2015, I took some time out from academia and became an employer of personal assistants on behalf of my mother and sister. This has allowed them to live independently, in their own home. I have continued to support them since.

I completed a Social Research MA (with Distinction) at the University of Leeds in 2017. My dissertation explored the intersections between citizenship and ableism, specifically looking at how the two may shape the conduct of young UK citizens.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

During my undergraduate degree, I conducted library-based research into the mistreatment of people with learning difficulties within the NHS, which highlighted various factors that can contribute to the nature of mistreatment. Through this, I found that there were fruitful avenues for future research that could enhance our understanding of mistreatment. This, along with continuously seeing more cases of violence and neglect within health and social care towards disabled people, motivated me to continue with my research. By increasing understanding into why this happens, I believe that academia can help to create avenues to help prevent future mistreatment. And it is that belief that has motivated me to undertake this PhD.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

As a sister, daughter, friend and ally to disabled people, I feel passionately about preventing the discrimination that disabled people can face in society.  

Through witnessing the health and social care system first hand, I know that there are both areas to be improved upon and people who are committed to good practice. I believe that everyone is entitled to good support, and I want the government to ensure that this is happening.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

I would love to stay in academia, teaching and researching in sociology. I would like to continue within the field of disability studies, researching dis/ableism in its various forms.