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David Hess

David Hess portraitProfessor of Sociology
James Thornton Fant Chair in Sustainability Studies
Associate Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment
Director, Program on Environmental and Sustainability Studies


PhD, Cornell University, 1987

Curriculum Vitae

What is the role of social movements, industry, scientific research, and political parties in the pace at which governments support the transition to more sustainable technologies?

The world today is often described as a “knowledge society or technological society.” I view attention to issues of knowledge, technology, and the politics of industrial development not merely as specialty areas but as crucial sites for understanding the contemporary world. My current work focuses on the politics of industrial transitions, especially factors that lead to a more sustainable economy and society and factors that lead to stasis in transition policies. In this area of work I am interested especially in the dynamics of coalitions in support of and opposed to policies in support of more sustainable technological and industrial systems. I investigate the role of incumbent industries, countervailing industrial power, scientists and research, social movements and advocacy groups, entrepreneurs, and the small business sector. This body of work includes studies of industrial opposition movements and alternative industrial movements.


Hess, David J. 2021. David Hess. Environmental Movements and Industrial Transitions. In Marco Giugni and Maria Grasso, eds., Routledge Handbook of Environmental Movements.

David J. Hess, Rachel McKane, and Caroline Pietrzyk. 2021. End of the Line: Environmental Justice, Energy Justice, and Opposition to Power Lines. Environmental Politics 10.1080/09644016.2021.1952799

Hess, David J., and Benjamin Sovacool. Sociotechnical Matters: Science and Technology Studies Perspectives in Energy Studies. Energy Research and Social Science. 65: 101462. (July).

David Hess. Coalitions, Framing, and the Politics of Energy Transitions: Local Democracy and Community Choice in California. Energy Research and Social Science 50: 38-50.

Hess, David J. 2016. Undone Science: Social Movements, Mobilized Publics, and Industrial Transitions. MIT Press.

2016. David J. Hess, Sulfikar Amir, Scott Frickel, Daniel Lee Kleinman, Kelly Moore, and Logan Williams. “Structural Inequality and the Politics of Science and Technology.” In Rayvon Fouché, Clarke Miller, Laurel Smith-Doerr, and Ulrike Felte (eds.), Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press. Pp. 319-347.

For a full list of publications and some full texts, go to