Professor Harding’s main research interests are in how law operates in everyday life. She is interested in how people experience legal frameworks and how they make decisions about whether or not to use law. Her research to date has focused on the recognition and regulation of intimate and caring relationships. Her work straddles areas of equality law, family law, healthcare law, human rights and jurisprudence.
Her current research seeks to understand the ways that ideas of capacity operate in everyday legally relevant decision making. Her Everyday Decisions project (www.legalcapacity.org.uk) explores the place of law in the everyday lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Using qualitative research methods, this project interrogates how socio-legal understandings of ‘legal’ and ‘mental’ capacity interact in the everyday lives of people with intellectual disabilities, in order to generate new approaches to better support their everyday legally-relevant decision making. This research was funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship award.
In 2018 she undertook a follow-up project building on her findings from the Everyday Decisions project to explore socio-legal dimensions of supported will-making. This work was funded by the University of Birmingham ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, and was in collaboration with the Law Commission. More information is available on the Everyday Decisions [www.legalcapacity.org.uk] project website.
Professor Harding became a charity trustee of Changing our Lives in January 2019.
Her recently published monograph, Duties to Care: Dementia, Relationality and Law (2017, Cambridge University Press) explores how carers of people with dementia experience the regulatory frameworks surrounding accessing help with and financial assistance for care, and the sources of formal and informal support utilised by carers of people with dementia, through topics including recent changes to powers of attorney, and the personalisation of care budgets. This work was funded by the British Academy. For more information see the Dementia Project website (www.dementiaproject.net), and the Birmingham Law School Research Spotlight 'Duties to Care: Why we all have a duty to care about Dementia'.
She was principal investigator of the AHRC Research Network ‘ReValuing Care: Perspectives from Gender, Sexuality and Law’ (www.revaluingcare.net), a partnership with the Universities of Adelaide, Keele and Queen Mary University of London. An edited collection of academic essays ReValuing Care in Theory, Law and Policy: Cycles and Connections (2017, Routledge, with Ruth Fletcher and Chris Beasley) has been published, drawing on work presented at the network events.