The Localization Reader

The Localization Reader

Adapting to the Coming Downshift

Edited by Raymond De Young and Thomas Princen

Readings that point the way to a peaceful, democratic, and ecologically resilient transition to an era of localization, limits, and societal opportunities.





Readings that point the way to a peaceful, democratic, and ecologically resilient transition to an era of localization, limits, and societal opportunities.

Energy supplies are tightening. Persistent pollutants are accumulating. Food security is declining. There is no going back to the days of reckless consumption, but there is a possibility—already being realized in communities across North America and around the world—of localizing, of living well as we learn to live well within immutable constraints. This book maps the transition to a more localized world.

Society is shifting from the centrifugal forces of globalization (cheap and abundant raw materials and energy, intensive commercialization, concentrated economic and political power) to the centripetal forces of localization: distributed authority and leadership, sustainable use of nearby natural resources, community self-reliance and cohesion (with crucial regional, national, and international dimensions).

This collection, offering classic texts by such writers as Wendell Berry, M. King Hubbert, and Ernst F. Schumacher, as well as new work by authors including Karen Litfin and David Hess, shows how localization—a process of affirmative social change—can enable psychologically meaningful and fulfilling lives while promoting ecological and social sustainability. Topics range from energy dynamics to philosophies of limits, from the governance of place-based communities to the discovery of positive personal engagement. Together they point the way to a transition that can be peaceful, democratic, just, and environmentally resilient.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262016834 376 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 5 figures, 4 tables


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262516877 376 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 5 figures, 4 tables


Raymond De Young

Raymond De Young is a Professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.

Thomas Princen

Thomas Princen explores ecological and economic sustainability at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Treading Softly: Paths to Ecological Order and The Logic of Sufficiency (both published by the MIT Press).


  • In these pages, you will find grounds for both vision and hope along with a starting place for action. As we face nature's demand to reorder and rightsize our relations with each other and the ecosystem, this collection should be considered required reading for all.

    Economic Record


  • This engaging reader, with lively contextual writing by the editors, presents the best thinking about localization, going back to Fritz Schumacher, Ivan Illich, and Wendell Berry and forward to Rob Hopkins, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, and Sharon Astyk. The Localization Reader is an eclectic mix of great writing and plugs a decade-long gap of serious books on this subject.

    Ted Bernard

    Professor, Environmental Studies Program, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University

  • 'Think globally, act locally' means thinking about the local as well as the global. De Young and Princen provide both new essays and classics that delve deeply into localization. This book will transform the way we think about sustainability as both a personal and a political issue.

    Thomas Dietz

    Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy and Animal Studies, Assistant Vice President for Environmental Research, Michigan State University

  • Global warming drives environmental change. Resource scarcities threaten the economy. The Localization Reader provides critical information, inspiring visions, and sound advice to get on top of these processes rather than live in fear of them.

    Richard B. Norgaard

    University of California, Berkeley

  • A needed entry in the discussion of alternative futures. Students will benefit greatly from its concerns and insights.

    Daniel Mazmanian

    Director, John Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise, University of Southern California