Assistant Professor of Sociology
Faculty Research Fellowship (2015-2018): First Symposium on Global Health and the Social Sciences
The project convened the First Symposium on Global Health and the Social Sciences, bringing together anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists working on global health from around the nation and world. The two-day gathering took place November 9-10, 2017 and was intended to expose participants to colleagues from other disciplines, to new ideas, and to provide the opportunity for scholars to create new research pathways and chart new agendas in conference sessions with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary themes.
MPA Princeton University; PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison
Prof. Joseph Harris joined the sociology department at Boston University in July 2013. He conducts comparative and historical research that lies at the intersection of sociology, public policy, and global health. He is the author of Achieving Access: Professional Movements and the Politics of Health Universalism (Cornell University Press, 2017). At a time when the world’s wealthiest nations struggle to make healthcare and medicine available to everyone, his book examines how and why resource-constrained countries make costly commitments to universal health coverage and AIDS treatment after transitioning to democracy. While conventional wisdom suggests that democratization empowers the masses, Harris draws attention to an underappreciated dynamic: that democratization empowers elites from esteemed professions – frequently doctors and lawyers – who forge progressive change on behalf of those in need in the face of broader opposition. The book explores dynamics that made landmark policies possible in Thailand and Brazil but which have led to prolonged struggle and contestation in South Africa.
Harris has served as a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, most recently as Specialist on the Political Economy of Healthcare Reform for the Japan-World Bank Project on Universal Coverage. He is a past recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Award and the Henry Luce Scholarship and holds a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He received his doctorate in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and served as Lecturer at the University of Chicago’s School of Public Policy Studies before joining the faculty at BU. In 2017, Harris received the Gitner Award for Distinguished Teaching and a Fulbright Scholarship for a project that explores the diffusion of Thailand’s model public health policies abroad. He serves as Associate Editor at Social Science and Medicine.
His current research agenda centers on the politics of social policy in the industrializing world; comparative understanding of state capacity, bureaucratic autonomy, and the developmental state; the emergent sociology of global health; and policy diffusion from the global periphery.