Professor Bernard Harris

Social Work and Social Policy

Personal statement

My research is concerned with various aspects of the social history of health and welfare since circa 1700.  I have worked on a wide range of topics within this field, including work on the history of height, morbidity and mortality; unemployment and poverty; the relationship between statutory and voluntary welfare provision; and the origins and development of the British welfare state.

Prizes and awards

International Conference on the History of Insurance in a Global Perspective Best Paper Award
Fellow of the Acdemy of Social Sciences
PROSE Award for Excellence in Economics (2011)

More prizes and awards


I was awarded a BA (Hons) in History by the University of Cambridge in 1983 and obtained my PhD (also in History) from Birkbeck College, London, in 1989.

I held a Temporary Lectureship in the Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Bristol from 1987 to 1991, when I joined the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Southampton.  I joined the School of Applied Social Sciences (now the School of Social Work and Social Policy) at the University of Strathclyde in September 2013.


Sickness experience in England, 1870-1949
Hinde Andrew, Gorsky Martin, Guntupalli Aravinda, Harris Bernard
Standard of Living Studies in Economic History (2022) (2022)
Did statutory insurance improve the welfare of Swedish workers? The statutory workplace accident insurance act of 1916
Andersson Lars-Fredrik, Eriksson Liselotte, Harris Bernard
Labor History Vol 63, pp. 210-233 (2022)
Social security, full employment and voluntary action : the three pillars of William Beveridge's welfare society
Harris Bernard
Social Policy and Administration Vol 56, pp. 203-216 (2022)
The 1918/19 influenza pandemic and Covid-19 in Ireland and the UK
Gorsky Martin, Harris Bernard, Marsh Patricia, Milne Ida
Historical Social Research Vol 33 (2021)
Anthropometric history and the measurement of wellbeing
Harris Bernard
Vienna Yearbook of Population Research Vol 19, pp. 1-33 (2021)
Growth before birth : the relationship between placental weights and infant and maternal health in early-twentieth century Barcelona
Galofre-Vila Gregori, Harris Bernard
Economic History Review Vol 74, pp. 400-423 (2020)

More publications

Research interests

I am currently working on a number of different topics, including the following:

  • Various issues associated with the use of anthropometric indicators to study the health and wellbeing of past populations
  • The history of sickness and morbidity
  • The impact of sanitary intervention on mortality decline (with Andrew Hinde, University of Southampton)
  • The comparative history of social policy in the different parts of the UK and the English-speaking world

Professional activities

Sanitary investment and the decline of mortality in England and Wales, 1817-1914
Evaluation Panel, Eudaimonia Institute, University of Oulu, Finland (Event)
International Union for the Scientific Study of Population
HEDG Workshop on Public interventions, health and population in history and 8th Annual Workshop on Growth, History and Development
Keynote/plenary speaker
PhD viva
Queen's University, Belfast, Economic History Seminar
Invited speaker

More professional activities


Border Crossings: Charity and voluntarism in Britain's mixed economy of health care since 1948
Harris, Bernard (Principal Investigator) Harris, Bernard (Principal Investigator) Stewart, Ellen (Principal Investigator) Stewart, Ellen (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2024
Border Crossings: Charity and voluntarism in Britain's mixed economy of health care since 1948
Harris, Bernard (Principal Investigator) Harris, Bernard (Principal Investigator) Stewart, Ellen (Principal Investigator) Stewart, Ellen (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2024
Gender and morbidity: Individual sickness trajectories of women and men in Sweden during the first half of the 20th century (supported by the Swedish Research Council)
Harris, Bernard (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2022
Equally Safe in Higher and Further Education
Harris, Bernard (Principal Investigator) McCarry, Melanie (Co-investigator) McGoldrick, Roisin (Co-investigator) Pilkington, Kevin (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 30-Jan-2019
Scottish ESRC Doctoral Training Centre DTG 2011 | Rawcliffe, Sue
Harris, Bernard (Principal Investigator) Rawcliffe, Sue (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 16-Jan-2019
Scottish ESRC Doctoral Training Centre DTG 2011 | Robbin, Melvina Rachael Valrete
MacIntyre, Gillian (Principal Investigator) Harris, Bernard (Co-investigator) Robbin, Melvina Rachael Valrete (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2013 - 16-Jan-2020

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