In Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry, David Hess examines how social movements and other forms of activism affect innovation in science, technology, and industry. Synthesizing and extending work in social studies of science and technology, social movements, and globalization, Hess explores the interaction of grassroots environmental action and mainstream industry and offers a conceptual framework for understanding it.
Hess proposes a theory of scientific and technological change that considers the roles that both industry and grassroots consumers play in setting the research agenda in science and technology, and he identifies "alternative pathways" by which social movements can influence scientific and technological innovation. He analyzes four of these pathways: industrial opposition movements, organized against targeted technologies (as in the campaign against nuclear energy); technology- and product-oriented movements, which press for alternatives (as does the organic food movement); localism, which promotes local ownership (as in "buy-local" campaigns); and access pathways, which support a more equitable distribution of resources. Within each pathway, Hess examines reforms in five different areas: agriculture, energy, waste and manufacturing, infrastructure, and finance. The book's theoretical argument and empirical evidence demonstrate the complex pattern of incorporation (of grassroots innovations) and transformation (of alternative ownership structures and the alternative products themselves) that has characterized the relationship of industry and activism. Hess's analysis of alternative pathways to change suggests ways economic organizations could shift to a more just and sustainable course in the twenty-first century.
David J. Hess is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is the author of Can Bacteria Cause Cancer?, Science and Technology in a Multicultural World, and other books.
This book couldn't be timelier. With the steamroller of globalization proceeding apace, this deeply researched and wide-ranging work provides thoughtful analyses of a diverse set of attempts to develop sustainable and socially just alternatives to our corporate-dominated, environmentally destructive, and inhumane global economy. Conceptually nuanced and politically vital, Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry is a book that scholars and activists alike will want to read. --Daniel Lee Kleinman, Professor of Rural Sociology and Science and Technology Studies, University of Wisconsin - Madison, author of Impure Cultures: University Biology and the World of Commerce "This book is valuable in contributing to several literatures: social movements, globalization, science and technology studies, and civil society. It is unique as an STS treatment of sustainability. The book is theoretically rich and nuanced, written in very accessible language." --Phil Brown, Department of Sociology and Center for Environmental Studies, Brown University "This book provides a hopeful and much-needed conceptual framework for understanding how civil society can positively influence science and technology in our era of globalization. Through the interpretive lenses of sociology and history, Hess has studied food cooperatives, alternative-energy producers, community-based recyclers, and other progressive organizations in an effort to identify more just and sustainable pathways of 'opposition and compromise.' His achievement is significant and will certainly influence not only scholars, but activists and professionals in any field who are concerned with the coevolution of society and the environment." --Steven A. Moore, Bartlett Cocke Professor of Architecture and Planning, University of Texas