Kevan Harris

Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Email    kevanharris at soc.ucla.edu
Office  284 Haines Hall
Phone  (310) 206-1247

I'm a historical sociologist studying development and social change in the global South.

My first book, A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran, is published by University of California Press.

My current research projects focus on:

  • Welfare politics in low and middle-income countries
  • Business-state relations in Iran
  • History of social policy in West Asia and North Africa
  • Class and social mobility in Iran before and after 1979

For PDFs of my articles and other publications, see my homepage.


Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University


Outstanding Article Award, ASA Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section (2013)

Theda Skocpol Award for Best Dissertation, ASA Comparative-Historical Sociology Section, Honorable Mention (2013)


Hellman Fellow, 2017-2018

Selected Publications

A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran.  Oakland: University of California Press, 2017.

"Making and Unmaking of the Greater Middle East." New Left Review 101 (2016): 5-34.

All the Sepah’s Men: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Theory and Practice.” Pp. 97-118 in Businessmen in Arms: How the Military and Other Armed Groups Profit in the MENA Region, edited by Elke Grawert and Zeinab Abul-Magd.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.

"Social Welfare Policies and the Dynamics of Elite and Popular Contention." Pp. 70-100 in Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation, edited by Daniel Brumberg and Farideh Farhi. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2016.

A Hidden Counter-Movement? Precarity, Politics, and Social Protection Before and Beyond the Neoliberal Era,” with Ben Scully. Theory & Society, Vol. 44, No. 5 (2015): 415-444.

"Notes on the Method of World-Systems Biography," with Brendan McQuade. Journal of World-Systems Research, special issue edited by Kevan Harris and Brendan McQuade, Vol. 21, No. 2 (2015): 276-286.

"The Breakaway Boss: Semiperipheral Innovations and the Rise of Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad." Journal of World-Systems Research, special issue edited by Kevan Harris and Brendan McQuade, Vol. 21, No. 2 (2015): 417-447.

Did Inequality Breed the Arab Uprisings? Social Inequality in the Middle East from a World Perspective.” Pp. 87-111 in The Arab Revolution of 2011: A Comparative Perspective, edited by Saïd Amir Arjomand. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2015.

“The Rise of the Subcontractor State: Politics of Pseudo-Privatization in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 45, No. 1 (2013): 45-70.

A Martyrs’ Welfare State and Its Contradictions: Regime Resilience and Limits through the Lens of Social Policy in Iran.” Pp. 61-80 in Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestation, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran, edited by Steven Heydemann and Reinoud Leenders. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013; paperback edition, 2014.

Vectors of Iranian Capitalism: Privatization Politics in the Islamic Republic.” Pp. 211-243 in Business Politics in the Middle East, edited by Steffen Hertog, Giacomo Luciani, and Marc Valeri. London: Hurst, 2013; paperback edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

The Brokered Exuberance of the Middle Class: An Ethnographic Analysis of Iran’s 2009 Green Movement.” Mobilization, Vol. 17, No. 6 (2012): 435-455.