Abigail StarkAbigail Stark

Research Title: : Lived citizenship and community during incarceration: A comparative study of prisoners’ experiences in England and the Republic of Ireland

Email: astark1@sheffield.ac.uk

Twitter: @Stark_Abigail

Supervisors: Dr Cormac Behan and Professor Stephen Farrall


LLB (Hons) Law & Criminology, University of Sheffield (2009)
MA International Criminology – Research Pathway (Distinction), University of Sheffield (2013)
Prior to beginning doctoral study at the School of Law, I worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth, where I also taught undergraduate students on the LLB Law & Criminology.

Scope of Research

My doctoral research explores prisoners’ experiences during incarceration, through the lens of ‘lived citizenship’, taking into account prisoners’ perceptions of, and engagement with, their communities; prisoners’ relationship, and engagement with, the state; and prisoners’ self-identity. My research is based on empirical qualitative data collected during fieldwork at 2 closed male prisons – one in England and one in the Republic of Ireland. By comparing experiences in these two jurisdictions, which have different legal positions on prisoner voting, my thesis will shed light on the extent to which such legal positions are reflective of prisoners’ subjective experiences during incarceration.

Research Interests

Sociology of Imprisonment, Comparative Penology, Prisoners’ Rights, Prisoner Disenfranchisement, Citizenship and Desistance.

Research Centre

Centre for Criminological Research (CCR)

Governance & Participation Research Group


  • Understanding Law (2014-15)
  • Criminal Law - Advanced (2014-15)
  • Understanding Criminology – Advanced (2015-16)
  • Punishment & Penal Policy (2015-16; 2017-2018)
  • Prisons & Imprisonment (2015-16; 2016-17; 2017-18)
  • Learning Mentor on the School of Law’s MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), ‘Crime, Justice & Society’ (Summer 2017).


Stark, A. (2016) ‘Book Review: Criminal Justice in Transition: The Northern Ireland Context’, International Review of Victimology, 22(2):198-200.

Tapley, J., Stark, A., Watkins, M. and Peneva, B. (2014) A Strategic Assessment of Support Services for Victims of Crime in the South East, Portsmouth: University of Portsmouth.

Hervey, T., Stark, A., Dawson, A., Fernández, J., Matosevic, T. and McDaid, D. (2012) ‘Long-term care for older people and EU Law: the position in England and Scotland’, Journal of Social Welfare & Family Law, 34(1), pp10

Conference Papers

Stark, A. (2017) ‘‘Banter on the Landing’: The role of humour in prison’, British Society of Criminology Annual Conference, 4th-7th July 2017, Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.

Stark, A. (2017) ‘‘Banter on the landing’: The role of humour in prison’, Postgraduate Research Conference, 17th May 2017, Sheffield: School of Law, University of Sheffield.

Stark, A. (2016) ‘Citizens in a ‘gated community’? Prisoners’ perceptions of, and engagement with, their communities during incarceration’, 10th North South Irish Criminology Conference, 23rd-24th June 2016, Maynooth: Maynooth University.

Stark, A. (2016) ‘Citizens in a ‘gated community’? Prisoners’ perceptions of, and engagement with, their communities during incarceration’, Postgraduate Research Conference, 18th May 2016, Sheffield: School of Law, University of Sheffield.

Stark, A. (2015) ‘Lived citizenship during incarceration: a typology for exploring prisoners’ experiences’, 4th GERN Doctoral Summer School, 7th-9th September 2015, Paris: CESDIP.

Stark, A. (2015) ‘Beyond the vote: prisoners’ experiences of citizenship in England and the Republic of Ireland’, Postgraduate Research Conference, 20th May 2015, Sheffield: School of Law, University of Sheffield.


ESRC White Rose Overseas Fieldwork Grant 2015
ESRC White Rose +3 Doctoral Scholarship 2014
Shortlisted for the Howard League for Penal Reform John Sunley Prize 2014
Sir Anthony Bottoms Prize in Criminology 2013
University of Sheffield Alumni Fund Postgraduate Scholarship 2012


European Society of Criminology
British Society of Criminology
Howard League for Penal Reform Early Career Academics Network
European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control
Irish Postgraduate and ECR Prison Research Network

Other Roles

PGR Representative for the School of Law (2015-16; 2016-17)
School of Law Health & Safety Committee (2016-17)
School of Law Higher Degrees Committee (2016-17)
CrimSoc Postgraduate Research Community Organising Committee (October 2014 – March 2016)
School of Law Postgraduate Research Conference Organising Committee (May 2015)