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Localist Movements in a Global Economy: Sustainability, Justice, and Urban Development in the United States

By: David J Hess

323 pages, no illustrations

MIT Press

Paperback | Apr 2009 | #185878 | ISBN-13: 9780262512329
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NHBS Price: £19.95 $24/€22 approx

About this book

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.

A clear-eyed and intensively researched analysis of the ways in which localism does or does not promote a more sustainable and just world. Analyses of localism have been generally split between romantic advocates and cynical critics, but very few researchers have stepped back and carried out the kind of careful and objective analysis of the claims and the critiques of localism that David Hess has done here. This book provides the most in-depth grappling of this issue to date. The case studies bring the book to life and will engage a wide variety of readers at a wide range of interest and understanding. --E. Melanie DuPuis, Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz

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David J. Hess is Professor of Science and Technology Studies and Director of the Program in Ecological Economics, Values, and Policy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is the author of Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry (MIT Press, 2007) and many other books.

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