Joseph Harris

Assistant Professor, Sociology

PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2012)

Sociology 247 |

Curriculum Vitae




Dr. Joseph Harris conducts comparative and historical research that lies at the intersection of sociology, public policy, and global health. His forthcoming book from Cornell University Press explores the puzzle of how and why developing countries are making expensive commitments to universal healthcare and costly treatment for HIV/AIDS. It draws out the surprising role played by elite members of esteemed professions – frequently doctors and lawyers – who draw on the offices of the state and legal expertise to forge progressive change on behalf of those in need in the face of broader professional dissent in Thailand, Brazil, and South Africa. The relative success of “professional movements” in Thailand and Brazil and failure in South Africa highlights critical differences in the character of democratic transition.

Dr. 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.

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.


Forthcoming. Achieving Access: Professional Movements, Politics, and the Struggle for Health Universalism in Thailand, Brazil, and South Africa. Cornell University Press.

  1. “Moving Towards Universal Health Coverage: Lessons from 11 Country Studies.” The Lancet. (multiple co-authors, second author).
  1. ”Political Repression, Civil Society, and the Politics of Responding to HIV/AIDS in the BRICS Nations.” Health Policy and Planning. (with Ed Gomez)
  1. “’Developmental Capture’ of the State: Explaining Thailand’s Universal Coverage Policy.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. 40(1)
  1. “Who Governs? Autonomous Political Networks as a Challenge to Power in Thailand.” Journal of Contemporary Asia.
  1. “Uneven Inclusion: Consequences of Universal Healthcare in Thailand.” Citizenship Studies. Vol. 17(1): 111-27.