Professor Bernard Harris

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

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.


Parsimony and pauperism : poor relief in England, Scotland and Wales in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries
Harris Bernard
Journal of Scottish Historical Studies (2019)
Sanitary investment and the decline of urban mortality in England and Wales, 1817-1914
Harris Bernard, Hinde Andrew
The History of the Family Vol 24 (2019)
Social policy by other means? Mutual aid and the origins of the modern welfare state in Britain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
Harris Bernard
Journal of Policy History Vol 30, pp. 202-235 (2018)
The social historian's view
Harris Bernard
Perspectives of a Comparative History of Insurance Law in Europe (2018) (2018)
Climate effects and stature since 1800
Galofre-Vila Gregori, Guntupalli Aravinda, Harris Bernard, Hinde Andrew
Social Science History Vol 42, pp. 763-794 (2018)
Not 'radical', but not 'kailyard' either : the Paisley Community Development Project reconsidered
Crow Graham, Rawcliffe Sue, Harris Bernard
Community Development Journal (2018)

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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
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
Academy of Finland (External organisation)

more professional activities


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
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 - 01-Jan-2017

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