The internationalization of economies and other changes that accompany globalization have brought about a paradoxical reemergence of the local. A significant but largely unstudied aspect of new local-global relationships is the growth of "localist movements," efforts to reclaim economic and political sovereignty for metropolitan and other subnational regions. In Localist Movements in a Global Economy, David Hess offers an overview of localism in the United States and assesses its potential to address pressing global problems of social justice and environmental sustainability. Since the 1990s, more than 100 local business organizations have formed in the United States, and there are growing efforts to build local ownership in the retail, food, energy, transportation, and media industries. In this first social science study of localism, Hess adopts an interdisciplinary approach that combines theoretical reflection, empirical research, and policy analysis. His perspective is not that of the uncritical localist advocate; he draws on his new empirical research to assess the extent to which localist policies can address sustainability and justice issues. After a theoretical discussion of sustainability, the global corporate economy, and economic development, Hess looks at four specific forms of localism: "buy local" campaigns; urban agriculture; local ownership of electricity and transportation; and alternative and community media. Hess examines "global localism"--transnational local-to-local supply chains--and other economic policies and financial instruments that would create an alternative economic structure. Localism is not a panacea for globalization, he concludes, but a crucial ingredient in projects to build more democratic, just, and sustainable politics.
David J. Hess is Professor in the Sociology Department, James Thornton Fant Chair in Sustainability Studies, and Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry, Localist Movements in a Global Economy, and Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy, all published by the MIT Press.