Professor Rosie Harding

Professor Rosie Harding

Birmingham Law School
Professor of Law and Society

Contact details

+44 (0) 121 414 4960
+44 (0) 121 414 3585
Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Rosie Harding's research explores the place of law in everyday life. Her primary interests are in social justice family law, particularly the regulation and recognition of caring and intimate relationships. She uses social science methods including both qualitative and quantitative approaches to empirical research to investigate the place of law in everyday life, including everyday understandings of law and legal discourse. Her work is grounded in feminist legal theory and gender, sexuality and law, and has been supported by research grants from the AHRC, ESRC, British Academy and Leverhulme Trust. Her current research is focused on the relationship between mental capacity and legal capacity in the context of everyday decisions made by people with intellectual disabilities. Her latest book, Duties to Care: Dementia, Relationality and Law (2017, Cambridge University Press) explores family carers’ experiences of the regulatory frameworks surrounding dementia care. Her broader research interests are in the gender, sexuality and law field, and also include human rights, discrimination and equality, and socio-legal research methodology. Her first book, Regulating Sexuality, won the 2011 Hart-SLSA Book Prize and Early Career Prize. Professor Harding was a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow from 2016-2017. In 2017 she was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Law.

Professor Harding is Chair of the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA).


  • LLB (Hons) University of Edinburgh
  • LLM Keele University
  • PhD University of Kent
  • PgC Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Keele
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Professor Harding completed her LLB at the University of Edinburgh, her LLM at Keele and her PhD at the University of Kent. Prior to joining Birmingham Law School in 2012, she taught at Keele Law School from 2004-2012. She has held visiting positions at Lund University (Sweden), University of Adelaide (Australia), Flinders University (Australia) and the University of Edinburgh.

Professor Harding has been a member of the SLSA executive committee since 2013, serving as Vice Chair from 2015-2017, and was elected Chair of the SLSA in 2017. Professor Harding is a Fellow of the ESRC Peer Review College, and also regularly reviews proposals for other funding bodies. She is also a member of the Society of Legal Scholars and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2004, she founded PECANS, a network of early career scholars working in the field of Gender, Sexuality and Law. She has reviewed for over 20 peer-reviewed journals, including leading journals in socio-legal studies, healthcare law, and gender, sexuality and law.

Professor Harding has undertaken many academic leadership roles, including: Acting Head of School (2014-15); Director of Research (2015-2016); Deputy Director of Research (2012 – 2014); Head of Postgraduate Research (2012-2014); PGT Director (2011-12). She is currently the Socio-Legal Studies Pathway Lead for the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership


  • Legal Skills and Methods
  • LM Socio-Legal Theory
  • LM Socio-Legal Method

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Harding is happy to supervise postgraduate research students in any of the following areas:

  • Mental Capacity and Disability Law, especially research involving questions of everyday decision-making, dementia, intellectual disability, powers of attorney, advance directives and end of life decision making.
  • Gender, sexuality and law, particularly issues to do with care, family law, discrimination and equality.

She is especially interested in supervising research involving empirical socio-legal methods. Potential research students are welcome to contact her by email to discuss their research proposals prior to submitting a formal application. 

Professor Harding was nominated by her students for the University of Birmingham ‘Excellence in Doctoral Supervision’ awards 2017.

Current Postgraduate Students:

  • Laurel Fine (MJur) 'Assisted Dying and the Ethic of Care'
  • Magdalena Furgalska ‘Capabilities and Supported Decision-Making in Mental Health Law’
  • Ellen Gordon-Bouvier (part time) ‘Vulnerability and the Breakdown of Cohabiting Relationships’
  • Zainab Naqvi ‘Critical feminist perspectives on the legal recognition of polygamous marriages in the UK’
  • Maeve O’Rourke ‘Is a Convention on the Rights of Older People Necessary’
  • Chloe Waterman ‘Legal Decision-Making in Dementia: A Conversation Analytic Study’ 

Find out more - our PhD Law  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


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 ( 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.

She is currently building on her findings from the Everyday Decisions project to explore socio-legal dimensions of supported will-making. This work is funded by the University of Birmingham ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, and is in collaboration with the Law Commission.

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 (, 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’ (, 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.

Other activities

  • Chair, SLSA Executive Committee
  • British Academy Mid-Career Fellow 2016-17
  • Fellow of the ESRC Peer-Review College
  • Co-Director, ReValuing Care Network





  • Harding, R. (2017) Duties to Care: Dementia, Relationality and Law Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ‘Cambridge Studies in Law and Society’ series. ISBN: 9781107097377.
  • Harding, R. (2011) Regulating Sexuality: Legal consciousness in lesbian and gay lives Routledge: London, pp 208. ISBN: 9780415574389. Winner of the Hart-SLSA Socio-Legal Book Prize 2011, and the Hart-SLSA Early Career Prize 2011.

Edited works

  • Harding, R., Fletcher, R. and Beasley, C. (eds) (2017) ReValuing Care in Theory, Law and Policy: Cycles and connections (Routledge Social Justice). ISBN: 9781138943193.
  • Harding, R. (ed) (2016) Law & Sexuality (Critical Concepts in Law, Routledge Major Works). ISBN: 9780415717977.
  • Peel E., & Harding R. (2016) Ageing & Sexualities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Routledge). ISBN: 9781472432155.
  • Peel E. & Harding R. (eds) (2008) ‘Regulating Sexuality: Contemporary perspectives on lesbian and gay relationship recognition’ Special Issue of Sexualities 11(6).

Journal Articles

  • Harding, R. (2017) ‘A Relational (Re)View of the UK’s Social Care Crisis’ Palgrave Communications DOI: 10.1057/palcomms.2017.96.
  • Milward, K., Curtice, M. & Harding, R. (2017) ‘Statutory Wills: Doing the right thing under the MCA 2005’ BJPsych Advances 23(1): 54-62.
  • Taylor, H., Harding, R. & Peel, E. (2016) ‘Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people with dementia in care homes: Socio-legal issues and implications for practice’ Nursing Older People 28(10): 26-30.
  • Harding, R. (2015) ‘Statutory Wills and the Limits of Best Interests Decision-Making’ Modern Law Review 78(6): 945-970.
  • Peel E. & Harding, R. (2015) ‘A Right to ‘Dying Well’ with Dementia? Capacity, ‘choice’ and relationality’ Feminism & Psychology 25(1):  137-142.
  • Peel, E. & Harding, R. (2014) “It’s a huge maze, the system, it’s a terrible maze”: Dementia carers’ constructions of navigating health and social care services. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice 13(5): 642-661.  
  • Harding, R. & Peel, E. (2013) “He was like a zombie”: Off-label Prescription of Antipsychotic Drugs in Dementia Medical Law Review 21: 243-277.
  • Harding, R. (2012) ‘Legal Constructions of Dementia: Discourses of autonomy at the margins of capacity’ Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 34(4): 425-442.
  • Harding, R.(2010) ‘Imagining a Different World: Reconsidering the Regulation of Family Lives.’ Law and Literature 22(3): 440-462.
  • Harding, R. (2007) 'Sir Mark Potter and the protection of the traditional family: Why same-sex marriage is (still) a feminist issue' Feminist Legal Studies, vol. 15(2), 223-234.
  • Harding R and Peel E. (2007) ‘Surveying sexualities: Internet research with non-heterosexuals’ Feminism & Psychology, vol. 17(2), 277-285.
  • Harding, R. (2007) ‘The promise of rights and the reality of law: implications of the decision in Wilkinson v Kitzinger’ Lesbian and Gay Psychology Review, vol. 8(1), 15-20.
  • Harding, R.(2006) ‘Dogs are ‘registered’, people shouldn’t be’: Legal consciousness and lesbian and gay rights.Social & Legal Studies 15(4): 511-533.
  • Harding, R. and Peel, E. (2006) ‘“We Do”? International perspectives on equality, legality and same sex relationships’ Lesbian and Gay Psychology Review, vol. 7(2), 123-140.
  • Harding, R. (2005) ‘Psychology, human rights and law: the case of planned lesbian families’ Lesbian and Gay Psychology Review, vol. 6(1), 23-34. 
  • Peel, E. and Harding, R. (2004) ‘Civil partnerships’ Feminism & Psychology, vol. 14(1), 41-46.
  • Peel, E. and Harding, R. (2004) ‘Divorcing rights, romance and radicalism: beyond pro and anti in the lesbian and gay marriage debate’ Feminism & Psychology, vol. 14(4), 588-599.

Chapters in Books

  • Harding, R. (in press, 2018) ‘Equality, Social Justice and Older People: Interrogating the conceptual foundations of a new Convention on the Rights of Older Persons’ in I. Doron & N. Georgantzi (eds) Law, Ageing and Ageism in Europe (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing).
  • Harding, R. (in press, 2018) ‘Mental Capacity Act 2005 Women’s Legal Landmark’ in R. Auchmuty & E. Rackley (eds) Women’s Legal Landmarks (London: Hart/Bloomsbury).
  • Bendall, C. & Harding, R. (in press, 2018) ‘Heteronormativity in Dissolution Proceedings: Exploring the impact of recourse to legal advice in same sex relationship breakdown’ in E. Brake & L. Ferguson (eds) Philosophical Foundations of Children’s and Family Law (Oxford, Oxford University Press).
  • Harding, R., Fletcher R., & Beasley, C. (2017) ‘ReValuing Care: Cycles and Connections’ in Harding, R., Fletcher, R., & Beasley C. (eds) ReValuing Care: Cycles and connections in theory, law and policy pp. 1-13 (Abingdon, Routledge).
  • Harding, R. (2017) ‘Care and Relationality: Supported decision-making under the UN CRPD’ in Harding, R., Fletcher, R., & Beasley C. (eds) ReValuing Care: Cycles and connections in theory, law and policy pp. 114-130 (Abingdon, Routledge).
  • Harding, R. (2016) ‘Law and Sexuality: Introduction’ in Harding, R. (ed) (2016) Law & Sexuality (Critical Concepts in Law, Routledge Major Works).
  • Harding, R. (2015) ‘Playing ‘House of Lords Bingo’: A critical discourse analysis of debates on civil partnership and same sex marriage’ in J. Miles, R. Probert & P. Mody (eds) Marriage Rights and Rites pp. 229-252 Oxford: Hart.
  • Harding, R. (2015) ‘(Re)Inscribing the Heteronormative Family: Same-sex relationships and parenting ‘after equality’ in R. Leckey (ed) After Legal Equality pp. 184-199. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Harding, R. (2014) ‘Dementia and Carers: Relationality and informal carers’ experiences’ in C. Foster, J. Herring & I. Doron (eds) Law, Ethics and Dementia pp. 379-391. Oxford: Hart.
  • Harding R. (2010) ‘Wilkinson v Kitzinger Judgment’ in Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice McGlynn C, Hunter R, Rackley E (Eds.). Oxford: Hart.
  • Harding, R. and Peel, E. (2007) ‘Heterosexism at work: diversity training, discrimination law and the limits of liberal individualism’ in Out in psychology: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer perspectives. Clarke V and Peel E (Eds.). Chichester, New York and Brisbane: Wiley.


Health and social care regulation, including social care, dementia care, and intellectual disability; Court of Protection, mental capacity and human rights; law and sexuality, including same sex marriage and LGBT* rights; discrimination and equality law.



Legal rights and access to legal representation for disabled people

Law and dementia

The Regulation of Adult Social Care

Mental capacity law

Healthcare law

LGBT+ rights, equality and discrimination law

International human rights (particularly in the fields of disability, older people, and gender/sexuality)

Legal rights and access to legal representation for disabled people