rich headshot

Jessica A.J. Rich

Associate Professor of Political Science, Marquette University
Chapter Member: Wisconsin SSN

About Jessica

Rich's research focuses on the people who fight to make public policy more inclusive, with an emphasis on public health. Overarching themes in Rich's writings include how such overlooked actors as bureaucrats, nonprofits, and social movements work together to shape public policy. Her first book explains the unexpected longevity of Brazil's HIV/AIDS movement, using it as a lens to explore how activism can survive the test of time. Rich is currently working on a new book that re-examines healthcare failures in the United States from a comparative perspective, drawing lessons from the Global South.

In the News

"While Brazil’s President Fights Social Distancing, Its Public Health System is Fighting the Pandemic," Jessica A.J. Rich, Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, May 4, 2020.


"What Makes Bureaucracies Politically Resilient? Evidence from Brazil’s Covid-19 Vaccine Campaign" (with Liam Bower and Eliza Massard da Fonseca). Comparative Politics (Forthcoming).

Sheds new light on the drivers of bureaucratic resilience in the face of presidential attacks, an understudied but politically salient topic. Argues that while political advocacy has been recognized as protective against attacks on policy regulation, additional support in the form of resource provision and social activism is crucial during the implementation phase of policy, as demonstrated by the successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Brazil, where these factors complement political advocacy to bolster bureaucratic resilience.

"Outsourcing Bureaucracy to Evade Accountability: How Public Servants Build Shadow State Capacity" American Political Science Review 117, no. 3 (2023): 835-850.

Explores how accountability initiatives, intended to reduce corruption, can actually hinder the development of capable government agencies. Highlights a common way public servants escape accountability rules: outsourcing bureaucracies to nonstate organizations.

"Making National Participatory Institutions Work: Bureaucrats, Activists, and AIDS Policy in Brazil" Latin American Politics and Society 61, no. 2 (2019): 45-67.

What are the conditions under which participatory institutions increase the voice of marginalized groups in policymaking? Examining the case of Brazil’s AIDS policy sector, this article argues that to fully understand the dynamics of national participatory governance, we must consider the role of bureaucrats.

"State-Sponsored Activism: Bureaucrats and Social Movements in Democratic Brazil" (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Explains Brazil’s continued success on AIDS treatment and prevention policy by highlighting the ways in which a powerful, autonomous social movement enables the state to sustain transformative social policies over time.

"Grassroots Bureaucracy: Intergovernmental Relations and Popular Mobilization in Brazil's AIDS Policy Sector" Latin American Politics and Society 55, no. 2 (2013): 1-25.

Identifies a new strategy utilized by national bureaucrats to regulate the behavior of subnational politicians: mobilizing civil society as government watchdog and political advocate.

"Organizing 21st-Century Activism: From Structure to Strategy in Latin American Social Movements." Latin American Research Review 55, no. 3 (2020).

Examines the role that a social movement’s organizing structure plays in determining the tactics it is likely to adopt. The article illustrates the argument through a case study of Brazil’s AIDS movement, acclaimed throughout Latin America for its ability to pursue hybrid tactics for policy influence.