Kevan Harris

Kevan Harris

Associate Professor

Office: 284 Haines Hall


Phone: 310-206-1247

Personal Website

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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 Iranis published by University of California Press. The Persian translation is published by Shirazeh Press.

I also co-edited The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century: A Global Viewalong with Jan Breman, Ching Kwan Lee, and Marcel van der Linden. It is published by University of California Press on its open access imprint. The entire book is free to download.

My current research projects focus on:

  • Welfare politics in low and middle-income countries
  • State formation in West Asia and North Africa
  • Business-state relations in post-revolutionary Iran
  • 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


“Labour Regimes, Social Reproduction, and Boundary-drawing Strategies Across the Arc of US World Hegemony,” with Phillip Hough. Pp. 173-188 in Labour Regimes and Global Production, edited by Elena Baglioni, Liam Campling, Neil M. Coe, and Adrian Smith. Newcastle, UK: Agenda Publishing, 2022. PDF

Myths of Middle-Class Political Behavior in the Islamic Republic.” Pp. 75-90 in The Contemporary Middle East in an Age of Upheaval, edited by James Gelvin. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021. PDF

Difference in Difference: Language, Geography, and Ethno-racial Identity in Contemporary Iran,” with Rasmus Elling. Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 44, No. 12 (2021): 2255-2281. PDF

Unraveling the Middle Classes in Postrevolutionary Iran. Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 37: 103-134 (2020). PDF (translated into Persian)

The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century: A Global Viewedited by Jan Breman, Kevan Harris, Ching Kwan Lee, and Marcel van der Linden. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019. Read the entire book at UC Luminos Open Access

A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran.  Oakland: University of California Press, 2017. Translations: Persian, 2019 (Tehran: Shirazeh Press).

“Of Eggs and Stones: Foreign Sanctions and Domestic Political Economy in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Pp. 72-96 in Economic Shocks and Authoritarian Stability: Duration, Financial Control, and Institutions, edited by Victor Shih. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2020.

Iran’s Commanding Heights: Privatization and Conglomerate Ownership in the Islamic Republic.” Pp. 363-399 in Crony Capitalism in the Middle East: Business and Politics from Liberalization to the Arab Spring, edited by Ishac Diwan, Adeel Malik, and Izak Atiyas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Pen to the Tiller: Land Reform and Social Mobility Across the 1979 Iranian Revolution,” with Zep Kalb. Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 19, No. 3 (2019): 465-486.

Roads from Calabria: The Arrighian Approach to Agrarian Political Economy,” with Jennifer Bair and Philip A. Hough. Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 19, No. 3 (2019): 391-406. PDF

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.

Awards & Grants


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