Undone Science

Undone Science

Social Movements, Mobilized Publics, and Industrial Transitions

By David J. Hess

A theoretical integration of science and technology studies and social movement studies that finds both common ground and “undone” research.





A theoretical integration of science and technology studies and social movement studies that finds both common ground and “undone” research.

As the fields of social movement studies (SMS) and science and technology studies (STS) have diversified in topical focus, they have moved closer to each other. SMS has turned toward the study of nonstate targets and institutionalized repertoires of action, just as STS has turned to expertise and publics. In Undone Science, David Hess argues that a theoretical integration of core concepts in the two fields is now possible, and he presents just such a synthesis. Hess focuses on industrial transition movements—mobilized counterpublics of activists, advocates, entrepreneurs, and other agents of change—and examines several areas of common ground between the two fields relevant to these movements. His account reveals the problem of “undone science”—areas of research potentially valuable to the goals of industrial transition movements that have been systematically ignored.

Each chapter begins with a problem in SMS, discusses the relevant STS literature, describes new concepts and findings that have emerged, and offers applications to examples that range from nanotechnology and climate science denialism to conflicts based on race, class, and gender. Topics include the epistemic dimension of the political opportunity structure, networks of counterpublic knowledge, and regime resistance in industrial transition.


$75.00 X ISBN: 9780262035132 258 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$20.00 X ISBN: 9780262529495 258 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • Science that remains undone cannot do any good for society. Whereas novel risks through science are often seen as reason to limit future research, increasingly many social movement activists see some areas of undone science as a call to more research. David Hess's Undone Science is a masterpiece in that it analyzes different counterpublics and their strategies to identify research that has not been done and ways to get it done. This much-needed link between social movement studies and science and technology studies sheds new light on the role of civil society in the making and unmaking of scientific knowledge.

    Matthias Gross

    Professor of Environmental Sociology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and University of Jena; author of Ignorance and Surprise

  • Having an impressive command of a broad array of concepts, theories, and case studies from both Social Movement Studies (SMS) and Science and Technology Studies (STS), Hess proposes a new hybrid set of approaches for understanding industrial transition movements. Through mapping the epistemic dimensions of SMS onto theories and practices of expertise in STS, the book covers strategies for 'counterpublics' to successfully mobilize support and bring about policy change in industry, medicine, and technological systems. These social movements are particularly relevant in today's rapidly globalizing world as they focus on bringing about change by making technoscientific systems more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.

    Barbara L. Allen

    Professor, Department of Science and Technology in Society, Virginia Tech-National Capital Region; author of Uneasy Alchemy

  • From epistemology to industrial change, David Hess elegantly articulates a new theoretical framework for some of the most important social transformations taking place today. Not only is his contribution to the literature on social movements critical, this book offers preciously rare insight into how advances can be made to protect the future of humanity.

    Sabrina McCormick

    Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupation Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health