ReValuing Care: Perspectives from Gender, Sexuality and Law

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Law School


The ReValuing Care Research Network will be an international, interdisciplinary network of academics and related third sector professionals working together to interrogate contemporary and future approaches to conceptual and normative understandings of care. Members of the network will include academics working on issues related to care from a variety of different sites, disciplines and contexts, including healthcare, childcare, eldercare, environmental issues, animal welfare and other related fields. The network builds on academic connections initially developed through the AHRC-funded Research Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality (CentreLGS, funded 2004-2009, graded Outstanding), and will facilitate the strengthening of links between centre partner institutions, (Keele, Kent and Westminster) and the creation of new research collaborations with the Fay Gale Centre for Research on Gender at the University of Adelaide, alongside other new international and interdisciplinary academic collaborations that arise through the network activities. The Gender, Sexuality and Law research group at Keele, who will lead on the network, have an established international reputation for cutting edge scholarship in gender, sexuality and law. The Fay Gale Centre builds on interdisciplinary excellence in gender studies at the University of Adelaide to provide a focus for the development and uptake of new theoretical and methodological approaches relating to gender in society.
Care has been a mainstay of feminist research for the last three decades, with different approaches to care being ascendant at different times. The research questions at the heart of this research network will contribute to future conceptual understandings of care, through providing physical and virtual spaces for scholars to interact, discuss and present their work. The participants in the research network will be drawn from a variety of different disciplinary backgrounds and will therefore draw on a multiplicity of conceptual approaches and methodological tools. At the heart of the planned research network is a commitment to creating opportunities for open dialogue between academics and activists, advocates and others working in the third sector. To do so, the network will run two international, interdisciplinary workshops.
The first workshop, 'Resources for Caring' will take place in September 2012 at Keele University, UK. Workshop 2, 'Caring about Social Interconnection' will take place in September 2013 at the University of Adelaide. The workshops will be carefully structured to provide space for discussion and interaction, as well as allowing for the presentation of both empirical and conceptual academic work. The workshop organizers will ensure that the format of each event is as inclusive and facilitative of non-academic engagement as possible.
Each of these physical meeting spaces for the network will be supported through the development and implementation of an interactive website. Workshop participants and network members will be encouraged to continue the conversations started at the workshops through the network website. Use of the website will be integrated with the workshop activities, in order to ensure that participants and discussions effectively cross the boundary between physical and virtual space. The research network activities will be overseen by an Advisory Panel, with both academic and third sector members.
Following the workshops, three further outputs from the project will be developed: 1) an edited collection of papers from the project, aimed at an academic audience, will be drawn together, edited by Harding (PI) and Fletcher (Co-I); 2) a policy-relevant report identifying key themes, questions and issues generated at the workshops will be published on the project website; and 3) the key participants aim to put together an international collaborative research project team to take forward one or more of the identified research priorities.

Planned Impact

In addition to the wide-ranging academic beneficiaries that have been identified for the 'ReValuing Care' Research Network, this project is built on a foundation of engagement with community and third sector organisations at local, national and international levels. As such, there are a number of elements of this research network that have strong potential to generate socio-economic and cultural impacts.

The planned research network seeks to build on existing connections that the GSL group and others at Keele University have with a range of community and third sector organisations with an interest in care, as well as developing new links, engaging additional user groups, and developing priorities for future collaborative research between academic and third sector organisations. Three of the four proposed outputs from the project are directly relevant to the generation of non-academic impacts (the website, workshop report and collaborative grant application). In addition, it is proposed that non-academic participants will be invited to the project workshops in order to participate in discussions, and identify avenues for future collaborative work. Both the PI (Harding) and CI (Fletcher) have a strong record of engaging with non-academic users and beneficiaries of research, of organising events involving both academic and non-academic participants (more details are available in the Pathways to Impact attachment), and of receiving media coverage (see cvs). Impact will be generated through five key aspects of the project:

1) Advisory Panel: two members of the network advisory panel will be from third sector organisations with an interest in care, either practically or conceptually. One of these will be from a local organisation (e.g. Brighter Futures) and one from a national organisation (e.g. Princess Royal Trust for Carers).

2) Website: the interactive website developed during the research network will operate as a portal through which non-academic beneficiaries and users of research can interact with academics developing research projects, carrying out research and publishing findings from their research.

3) Workshops: each of the workshops will have specific goals of facilitating and developing conversation and collaboration between academic and non-academic participants. Open spaces for discussion and dialogue will be created, and hosted discussions will be used to facilitate true engagement with the ideas and perspectives from non-academic participants.

4) Policy Report: one of the key written outputs from the project will be a policy-relevant report. This report will contain suggested research priorities and research questions identified through the workshops. It will be developed by the PI and CI in tandem with the edited collection, thus mirroring the outputs of benefit to academic users with an equivalent output aimed at non-academic beneficiaries.

5) Collaborative Project Application: researchers and non-academic participants at the workshops will be facilitated and supported to work together to produce at least one large-scale research project application. This grant application will take forward the research questions and priorities that are generated through the workshops and subsequent online discussions.

Throughout the network activities, the project team will actively seek to ensure that project activities are reported in relevant local and national news outlets, including broadcast, print and online news media.

As is clear from the above, whilst this proposed research network is conceptually sophisticated, and grounded in intellectual questions, there are a number of ways in which the potential for impact beyond the academy have been built into the foundations of the network. As such, this proposed research network has strong potential not only to create impact in and of itself, but also to facilitate the longer-term creation of impact at a local, national and international level.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/J008516/1 14/03/2012 31/08/2012 £35,987
AH/J008516/2 Transfer AH/J008516/1 01/09/2012 30/06/2014 £28,464
Description The research funded on this grant was the development of a research network, called the ReValuing Care Network.
Exploitation Route The ReValuing Care Network remains active as a source of interdisciplinary and cross-network collaborations about care.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The ReValuing Care website has helped to expand debate in the public realm about the value of care in society, especially through traffic to the website and blog. The website attracts a monthly average of between 5000 and 8000 unique visitors per month, from a diverse range of geographical locations. The @ReValuingCare twitter account has over 750 followers and actively promotes the social and cultural impact of the network. The ReValuing Care Network itself now has over 200 members on its email list, from across academic, policy and health and social care practice.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

Description British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship 2016
Amount £107,272 (GBP)
Funding ID MD150026 
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 09/2017
Description University of Adelaide 
Organisation University of Adelaide
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The ReValuing Care network included a range of collaborative activities between the UK partners and the University of Adelaide, including hosting visits from members of the Fay Gayle Research Centre at Keele University in 2012, and co-organising an event at the University of Adelaide in 2013.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Adelaide hosted an international workshop in August/September 2013, and hosted Dr Harding as a visting fellow in August 2013. The Fay Gale Centre at the University of Adelaide provided conferencing facilities, catering and refreshments, as well as administrative support for the conference organisation.
Impact Two international conferences (Keele, 2012 and Adelaide, 2013). Continued collaboration on an edited book. Multi-disciplinary: law and politics.
Start Year 2012
Description Hay Festival 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk at Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye (23 May 2015): 'Vulnerability and Care at the End of Life with Dementia' (sold out). The talk is available to listen to online via the Hay Festival website at: Quotations from this talk were published as part of an article in The Economist by Maggie Fergusson in January/February 2016 'How to have a good death' (available at:
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description ReValuing Care Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact The ReValuing Care website hosts the ReValuing Care Blog, and the twitter account @revaluingcare. The ReValuing Care blog will be archived later in 2017, following a period of time raising the profile of the recently published edited collection (Harding, R., Fletcher, R. & Beasley, C (eds) (2017) 'ReValuing Care in Theory, Law and Policy: Cycles and Connections' (Abingdon: Routledge). The website aims to translate outputs from the ReValuing Care network activities into formats accessible to wider audiences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017