David J. Hess


NOTE: THIS SITE IS MOVING TO www.davidjhess.net. The new site has updated materials.



David J. Hess is a professor in the Sociology Department at Vanderbilt University, Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, Director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Sociology Department. His research and teaching is on the sociology and anthropology of science, technology, health, and the environment. He is the recipient of the Robert K. Merton Prize, the Diana Forsythe Prize, the Star-Nelkin Prize (shared with coauthors), the William H. Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award, and the General Anthropology Division Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship. He has been a Fulbright scholar and the PI and Co-PI on grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and FIPSE.

Contact information:See his web page at the Vanderbilt Sociology Department. The web page also has a CV.

List of all research: This listing is for most of the research posted on this web site, and it provides links to published articles or final draft versions. If you are searching for a particular article, it is the best way to find it. If you wish to browse by topic, please click on the buttons for specific areas of research.

2014 David J. Hess and Scott Frickel, “Introduction: Fields of Knowledge and Theory Traditions in the Sociology of Science.” Political Power and Social Theory, 27: 1-30. Contact me for a copy.

2014 (Forthcoming). "Political Ideology and the Green-Energy Transition in the United State." In Daniel Kleinman and Kelly Moore, eds. Routledge Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. New York: Routledge. Paper here.

2014 (Forthcoming) with Quan D. Mai. “Renewable Electricity Policy in Asia: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Factors Affecting Sustainability Transitions.” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. Shows the influence of fossil fuel endowments on green-energy policy in Asian countries. Contact me for a copy.

2014 (Forthcoming) “Smart Meters and Public Acceptance: Comparative Analysis and Governance Implications.” Forthcoming in Health, Risk, and Society. This paper continues the analysis of the previous one written with Jonathan Coley by examining the patterns of anti-smart-meter mobilizations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. Contact me for a copy.

2014 "Sustainability Transitions: A Political Coalition Framework." Research Policy 43(2): 278-283. This continues the thread of work on countervailing industrial power that I was developing in my paper in Global Environmental Change (below). Final draft here.

2014 (Forthcoming) "Undone Science, Industrial Innovation, and Social Movements.” Forthcoming in Matthias Gross and Linsey McGoeey (eds.,), The International Handbook of Ignorance Studies. Routledge. Paper here.

2014 (Forthcoming) Hess, David J. “When Green Became Blue: Epistemic Rift and the Corralling of Climate Science.” Political Power and Social Theory 27: 123-153. Contact me for a copy.

2014 "Wireless Smart Meters and Public Acceptance: The Environment, Limited Choices, and Precautionary Politics." Coauthored with Jonathan S. Coley. Forthcoming in Public Understanding of Science 23: 688-702. This paper examines the social movement in California that has opposed wireless smart meters, and it develops general hypotheses about the conditions under which precautionary politics are more or less successful. Final draft here.

2013 "Beyond Scientific Consensus: Scientific Counterpublics, Countervailing Industries, and Competing Research Agendas." Paper here. Forthcoming in Wilhelm Viehover and Peter Wehling, eds. The Public Shaping of Medical Research: Patient Associations, Health Movements, and Biomedicine. Routledge. The paper reviews some of the more recent developments in the CAM cancer therapy field and applies the conceptual framework that I have been developing involving counterpublics and undone science. It was originally presented in 2012 at a conference on health social movements in Augsburg, Germany. This paper is cross-listed on my medicine and religion page, but it is included here.

2013 "Industrial Fields and Countervailing Power: The Transformation of Distributed Solar Energy in the United States." This paper was given at the Conference on Grassroots Innovation, University of Sussex, and it has been accepted for publication in Global Environmental Change for a special issue on "grassroots innovation." It tracks the marginalization of local ownership in the development of distributed solar energy in the U.S. The paper engages transition theory by developing the thesis of countervailing power in sustainability transitions. Prepublication version here.

2013. Invited panelist, SEC Symposium on Government, University, and Industry Partnerships in Renewable Energy Policy and Practice, Atlanta. Link to video

2013 "Local and Not-so-Local Exchanges: Alternative Economies, Ethnography, and Social Science." In Jeff Juris and Alex Kasnabish, eds.,, Ethnography and Transnational Activism. Duke University Press. Final draft of chapter here.

2013 "Neoliberalism and the History of STS Theory: Toward a Reflexive Sociology." Social Epistemology 27(2): 177-193. Final version here. See also the reply to Schweber's commentary on the Social Epistemology web site: http://social-epistemology.com.

2013. “On the Conditions Affecting Successful Sustainable Consumption Programs and Policies.” Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Network, Annual Meeting, Clark University, June 13. These are discussant comments that develop my line of thinking on the conditions that are favorable and unfavorable for green-transition policies. Paper here.

2013 “Sustainable Consumption, Energy, and Failed Transitions: The Problem of Adaptation.” In Maurie Cohen, Halina Brown, and Philip Vergragt (ed.), Innovations in Sustainable Consumption: New Economics, Socio-Technical Transitions, and Social Practices. Edward Elgar. Paper here.

2013. “Transitions in Energy Systems: The Mitigation-Adaptation Relationship.” Science as Culture, special issue. 22(2): 197-203. Paper here.

2012 "Beyond Scientific Consensus: Scientific Counterpublics, Countervailing Industries, and Competing Research Agendas." Paper here. The papers for this conference have now been accepted for an edited volume published by Routledge.

2012 "Cultures of Science." In Sabine Massen, Mario Kaiser, Martin Reinhart, Barbara Sutter, eds. Handbuch Wissenschaftersoziologie. VS Verlag. Final English version here.

2012 "Green Energy Laws and Republican Legislators in the United States." By Jonathan Coley and David Hess. Energy Policy 48 (1): 576-583. This a a companion piece to the book that goes into more detail for some of the issues in the last chapter. It uses a 6000-variable database on state legislature votes for renewable electricity standards and property-assessed clean energy laws to assess the factors that affect Republican votes and the potential for bipartisanship. Final prepublication draft here.

2012 “The Green Transition, Neoliberalism, and the Technosciences.” In Luigi Pellozzoni and Marja Ylönen (eds.), Neoliberalism and Technosciences: Criticial Assessments. Edward Elgar. In press. Chapter Here.

2012 Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy: Making and Keeping New Industries in the United States (MIT Press, 2012; Google Books Preview), examines the politics of green energy policy reform in the United States. The social movement focus here is on "green transition coalitions," or the coalitions of labor, environmental, urban poverty, and clean-energy businesses. This book builds on the NSF-funded 2010 research project (described on a separte web page here, SES-0947429) by taking a more theoretical look at the significance of green industrial policy in the U.S. There is both a methodological and theoretical argument. Methodologically, I argue first that there is a need for a sociological approach to sustainability transitions (see the next section) that focuses on political ideology, coalitions, and scalar dynamics. The book tracks the fortunes of green industrial policy at the state and local government level and also at the federal government level during the Obama administration. Theoretically, the overarching thesis is historical: the politics of the green transition in the United States are now deeply interwoven with the relative decline of the United States in the global economy and the rise of newly industrializing countries. As a result, developmentalist ideology, which had been prominent in the country throughout the nineteenth century, is re-emerging. Developmentalism involves a reinvigorated industrial policy and a more defensive position with respect to trade. This argument ties in with my general work on political ideology (see the page on political ideology).

2012 “Nanotechnology and the Environment.” By Anna Lamprou and David Hess. In Donald Mclaurcan, ed., Nanotechnology and Global Sustainability. CRC Press. This paper connects the debate in environmental sociology between treadmill of production and ecological modernization perspectives with policy strategies, thus shifting the debate toward its policy implications. Anna has gone on to study nanotechnology policy in the EU and US. Final draft of the paper here.

2012 "The New Developmentalism: How the Long-Term Shifts to an Asia-Centered, Low-Carbon Global Economy are Connected." World Financial Review, Nov.-Dec. Here.

2012 "Notes on the Relations between CAM and the Social Sciences." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 26(2): 283-286. Final draft of the paper here.This is an invited commentary on a paper in the same issue by Hans Baer.

2012 Review, Fligstein and McAdam, A Theory of Fields. Mobilizing Ideas, June 13. Paper here.

2011 "Bourdieu and Science and Technology Studies: Toward a Reflexive Sociology." Minerva 49(3): 333-348.This paper on the STS field and research priorities provides another introductory overview of the field. Paper here.

2011 Conference on the political sociology of science and technology, 2011.

2011 "Electricity Transformed: Neoliberalism and Local Energy in the United States ." Antipode. 43(3): 1056-1077. Final dratt here.

2011 "Science and Neoliberal Globalization: A Political Sociological Approach." By Kelly Moore, Daniel Kleinman, David Hess, and Scott Frickel. Theory and Society 40(5): 505-532. Final draft here. Winner of the ASA Star-Nelkin Prize.

2011 "To Tell the Truth: On Scientific Counterpublics." Public Understanding of Science. 20(5): 627-641. Final draft here.

2010. "Declarations of Independents: On Local Knowledge and Localist Knowledge." Anthropological Quarterly 83(1): 147-170. Article here.

2010. " Environmental Reform Organizations and Undone Science in the United States: Exploring the Environmental, Healhth, and Safety Implications of Nanotechnology.” Science as Culture 19(2): 181-214. Final draft here.

2010 "A Political Economy of Sustainability: Alternative Pathways and Industrial Innovation." In Steven Moore (ed.), Pragmatic Sustainability: Theoretical and Practical Tools. Routledge. Article here.

2010. Research Report: Building Clean-Energy Industries and Green Jobs (6MB; best viewed if downloaded). You may want to open the text-based version. Building Clean-Energy Industries and Green Jobs text version (3MB) or the Executive Summary (4MB)

2010. "Social Movements, Publics, and Scientists." Invited Plenary Lecture, Japanese Society for Science and Technology Studies. Article here.

2010. "Sustainable Consumption and the Problem of Resilience." Sustainability: Science, Practice, Policy. 6(2): 1-12. Open source, available at the journal web site. Link here.

2010. "Undone Science: Social Movement Challenges to Dominant Scientific Practice." By Scott Frickel, Sahra Gibbon, Jeff Howard, Joana Kempner, Gwen Ottinger, and David J. Hess. Science, Technology, and Human Values 35(4): 444-473. Article here.

2009 Localist Movements in a Global Economy: Sustainability, Justice, and Urban Development in the United States(MIT Press, 2009; Google Books Preview) examines American movements for increased local ownership, including "buy local" organizations, community gardens, reuse centers, and community media. I look especially for the points of intersection with sustainability and justice goals. See the separate web page on Localism and Sustainability.

2009 "The Potentials and Limitations of Civil Society Research: Getting Undone Science Done." Sociological Inquiry 79(3): 306-327. Article here.

2008 "Science, Technology, and Social Movements," coauthored with Steve Breyman, Nancy Campbell, and Brian Martin, in the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (MIT Press). Edited by Edward Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael Lynch, and Judy Wacjman. MIT Press. Pp. 473-498. Abstract here.

2007Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry: Activism, Innovation, and the Environment in an Era of Globalization (MIT Press, 2007; Google Books Preview). One of the central arguments of the book is that social movements play a generative role in scientific and technological change, rather than merely a role of opposing some new forms of technology or demanding access to others.The book showed how movement goals were incorporated into existing industrial regimes in different ways depending on the type of movement. The book won the Robert K. Merton award from the American Sociological Association.

2007 "Crosscurrents: Social Movements and the Anthropology of Science and Technology." American Anthropologist 109(3). Article here. Winner of the General Anthropology Division Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship.

2007 "What is a Clean Bus? Object Conflicts in the Greening of Urban Transit." Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy 3(1): 45- 58. Link to original paper here.

2006 "Angiogenesis Research and the Dynamics of Research Fields: Historical and Institutional Perspectives in the Sociology of Science." In Scott Frickel and Kelly Moore, The New Political Sociology of Science. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. Article here.

2006 "Backfire, Repression, and the Theory of Transformative Events," coauthored with Brian Martin. Mobilization 11(2): 249-267. Article here.

2005 "Cancer." In Carl Mitcham, ed., Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. D etroit : Macmillan Reference USA . Vol. 1: 285-288.  Abstract here.

2005 Case Studies of Localism Sustainable Development. The set is based on research conducted in 2005 as part of a graduate student research training project that was funded by the National Science Foundation,Science and Technology Studies Program (SES 0425039, see details on web page on localism) that analyzed issues of localism, sustainability and the design of industrial and technological systems.

1. The greening of urban public transit and electricity: This document contains case studies of the greening of public transit systems (Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, Chattanooga (CARTA), San Francisco Muni, and Seattle Metro Transit) and of the greening of electricity (Austin Energy, San Francisco Community Choice, and Seattle City Light and Public Power).

2. Reuse centers and building deconstruction organizations: This document contains case studies of the Habitat for Humanity Re-store (Austin), the Loading Dock (Baltimore), Urban Ore (Berkeley), Recycle North (Burlington), the Reuse People (Oakland), Construction Junction (Pittsburgh), and the Rebuilding Center (Portland).

3. Locally oriented and green business networks: This document contains four case studies. One is of an AMIBA network, the Austin Independent Business Alliance, and the others are of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, Local Exchange (San Francisco), and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

4. Community gardens and sustainable local agriculture: There are separate case studies here for community gardens in Boston, Denver, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Seattle. There is also a case study of an urban farm in Sacramento and a farmers' market in San Francisco.

2005 "Complementary and Alternative Medicine." In Sal Restivo, ed., Oxford Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Society. Pp. 67-72. Oxford University Press.

2005 "Complementary and Alternative Medicine." In Carl Mitcham, ed., Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics.. Macmillan Reference USA . Vol. 1: 384-387. Abstract here.

2005 "Technology- and Product-Oriented Movements: Approximating Social Movement Studies and STS." Science, Technology, and Human Values 30(4): 515-535. Article here.

2004 "CAM Cancer Therapies in Twentieth-Century North America: Examining Continuities and Change." In Robert Johnston (ed.), The Politics of Healing. Routledge. Article here.

2004 Conference on Science, Technology, and the Environment (Organizer). Details here.

2004 "Medical Modernization, Scientific Research Fields, and the Epistemic Politics of Health Social Movements." Sociology of Health and Illness 26(6): 695-709. .Article here. Also available from Wiley online: article here.

2004 "Health, the Environment, and Social Movements," editor of special issue of Science as Culture published in December (13/4). Includes "Object Conflicts in a Health-Environmental Social Movement: The Movement for Organic Food and Agriculture in the U.S." Article here.

2003 "Technology, Medicine, and Modernity." In Arie Rip, Philip Brey, and Tom Misa, Technology and Modernity. Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press.

2002 "Complementary or Alternative? Strong versus Weak Integration Policies." American Journal of Public Health 92(10): 1579-1581.Article here.

2002 "The Raw and the Organic: Politics of Therapeutic Cancer Diets in the U.S." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Special issue edited by Helen Sheehan and Barrett Brenton on "Global Perspectives on Complementary and Alternative Medicine." Vol. 582 (Sept.): 76-97. PDF file of the article here; link to American Academy of Political and Social Science here.

2002 "Science Studies and Activism: Possibilities and Problems for Reconstructivist Agendas," by E.J. Woodhouse, David Hess, Steve Breyman, and Brian Martin. Social Studies of Science 32/2: 297-319. Abstract. Article.

2002 “Stronger Versus Weaker Integration Policies.” American Journal of Public Health 92(10): 12-14.

2001 "Ethnography and the Development of Science and Technology Studies." Sage Handbook of Ethnography. Paul Atkinson, Amanda Coffey, Sara Delamont, Lyn Lofland, and John Lofland, eds. This essay develops the argument for higher-level asymmetry as an extension of the strong program approach. Here.

2001 "Scientific Culture." In Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Bates, eds., International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier.

2001 Studying Those Who Study Us: An Anthropologist in the World of Artificial Intelligence, by Diana Forsythe (posthumous). Edited and with an introduction by David Hess. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001; Google Scholar Preview). I edited the collected papers of the cultural anthropologist Diana Forsythe, a friend and colleague who died unexpectedly in a hiking accident and played an important role in the integration of feminist cultural analysis into the anthropology of science and STS.

2000 "Medical Integration and Questions of Universalism." [Portuguese] In Laura Graziela Gomes, ed. Twentieth Anniversary Commemoration of Carnavais, Malandros, e Heróis. Rio de Janeiro: Editora da Fundação Getúlio Vargas. This paper connects my work on Spiritism and religious therapies with the second project on complementary and alternative medicine. Paper available here.

2000 "Patients, Science, and Alternative Cancer Therapies." In Preventing Cancer in North America, edited by Diane Wiener. Greenwood Press. Paper here.

1999 Evaluating Alternative Cancer Therapies: A Guide to the Science and Politics of an Emerging Medical Field. Edited collection of interviews. Rutgers University Press.

1999 "Suppression, Bias, and Selection in Science: The Case of Cancer Research." Accountability in Research 6: 245-257. Article here.

1998 "If You're Thinking of Living in STS....A Guide for the Perplexed." In Gary Downey and Joe Dumit (eds.), Cyborgs and Citadels: Anthropological Interventions in Emerging Sciences and Technologies. Santa Fe: SAR Press. This was an early formulation of differences in ethnographic methods between the laboratory ethnographies of the 1980s and the ethnographic methods of anthropologists.

1998 Women Confront Cancer: Making Medical History by Choosing Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Collection of interviews, coedited with Margaret Wooddell. New York University Press.

1997 Can Bacteria Cause Cancer? New York University Press.

1997 Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction (NYU Press, 1997; Google Scholar Preview). The book grew out of attempts to teach basic concepts in STS to graduate students. Since its publication, many other introductory books to STS have come n the market.My book is now out of date, and I have provided some supplementary web lectures here that discuss the field during the subsequent years.

Supplemental Lecture 1: Background Frameworks in Science and Technology Studies

Supplemental Lecture 2: Constructivism

Supplemental Lecture 3: Dynamics of Research Fields

Supplemental Lecture 4: Expertise, Policy, and Publics

1996 "Technology and Alternative Cancer Therapies." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 10(4): 657-74. Paper here.

1995 Science and Technology in a Multicultural World. (Columbia University Press, 1995; Google Scholar Preview). This book argued for the value of the culture concept, understood in diverse ways but especially influenced by anthropology, in STS. Since then there has been an explosion of ethnographic and cultural analysis by historians, anthropologists, and sociologists, but the book still provides a basic overview of some of the different approaches.

1992 Knowledge and Society Volume 9: The Anthropology of Science and Technology. Coedited with Linda Layne; series editor Arie Rip. JAI Press. Articles by Hess: "Introduction: The New Ethnography and the Anthropology of Science and Technology." This was the first edited collection of anthropologists of science and technology.

Religion and the Public Understanding of Science (First Research Project)

1995 The Brazilian Puzzle: Culture on the Borderlands of the Western World. Coedited with Roberto DaMatta. Columbia University Press. Introduction, Conclusions, and "Hierarchy, Hegemony, and the Construction of Brazilian Religious Therapies" by Hess. Theoretically, an attempt to bridge hierarchy and hegemony (culturalist and social structural approaches) in the study of the religious system in Brazil. Paper available here.

1995 "Preface." Magico-Religious Healers of Brazil, by Nagato Azuma and Patric Giesler. Tokyo: Arechi-Syuppansha Inc.

1994 Samba in the Night: Spiritism in Brazil. Fieldwork account. Columbia University Press.

1993 Science in the New Age: The Paranormal, Its Defenders and Debunkers, and American Culture. University of Wisconsin Press. Chinese translation: Jiangxi Education Press, 1998. Chapter 7 (Theoretical Conclusions) here. Google Scholar Preview here.

1992 "New Sciences, New Gods: Spiritism and Questions of Religious Pluralism in Latin America." Occasional Papers of the Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies, "Conference on Competing Gods: Religious Pluralism in Latin America." Brown University. A paper that questioned the current view of some scholars that Latin American was becoming Protestant by discussing the continued vitality of spirit mediumship religions. Paper available here.

1992 Knowledge and Society Volume 9: The Anthropology of Science and Technology. Coedited with Linda Layne; series editor Arie Rip. JAI Press. Article by Hess:"Disciplining Heterodoxy, Circumventing Discipline: Parapsychology, Anthropologically." Link to PDF file here. Link to Elsevier press here.

1992 "Umbanda and Quimbanda Magic in Brazil: Rethinking Aspects of Bastide's Work." Archives des Sciences Sociales des Religions. 79: 139-53. A structuralist analysis of Umbanda and Quimbanda rituals with the theoretical argument that Bastide over-estimated “religious degradation” of African religion in his studies of Umbanda. Paper available here.

1991 Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazilian Culture. Pennsylvania State University Press. Introduction available here. Google Scholar Preview here.

1991 "On Earth as It Is in Heaven: Reading Spiritist Otherworldly Ethnographies." In Roberto Reis (ed.), Toward Socio-Criticism: Selected Proceedings of the Conference "Luso-Brazilian Literatures, A Socio-Critical Approach." Arizona State University at Tempe, Center for Latin American Studies. This paper showed how Spiritist and American descriptions of the spirit world showed important cultural differences related to this-worldly Brazil and the U.S. Paper available here.

1990 "Ghosts and Domestic Politics in Brazil: Some Parallels between Spirit Infestation and Spirit Possession." Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 18(4): 407-38. This was the first paper to link "poltergeists" and spirit "attacks" to domestic violence. Paper available here.

1989 "Disobsessing Disobsession: Religion, Ritual, and Social Science in Brazil." Cultural Anthropology 4(2): 182-193. Early version of chapter in Spirits and Scientists. This paper argued that positions among social scientists Spiritism among social scientists in Brazil had homologies with positions in the religious field. Paper available here.

1987 "O Espiritismo e as Ciências [Spiritism and the Sciences]." Religião e Sociedade 14(3): 40-54. Early version of chapter in Spirits and Scientists.

1987 "The Many Rooms of Brazilian Spiritism." Luso-Brazilian Review 24.2: 15-34.

1987 "Religion, Heterodox Science, and Brazilian Culture." Social Studies of Science 17: 465-477. Portions appeared in Spirits and Scientists. Paper available here.