Local economic solutions are typically presented as a form of self-help or cure-all which can transform whole communities.
They are premised on the idea that pooling community resources and skills will promote small-scale alternatives to the impersonal and alienating power of the global marketplace.
In this book Greg Sharzer examines the shortcomings of the localism concept, by addressing its ambiguities and how it reinforces the neoliberal agenda.
Sharzer adopts a Marxist approach, arguing that localism "refuses to provide a systematic explanation of value and in doing so creates plans for local alternatives that don't challenge the injustices of capitalism."
The failure of local systems to redress the nature and the workings of the capitalist system is Sharzer's primary criticism.
He focuses on the division of labour created by the market as the core, underlying exploitation which remains unchanged globally and locally and argues that local alternatives do not counter market disciplines but merely apply them on a more concentrated basis.
To illustrate the point he cites emerging local exchange trading systems - Lets - which create alternative currencies that can only be spent locally in order to support community businesses.
Despite the popular uptake of these systems by ethically aware consumers, they do not in fact overturn the mechanisms of capitalism, Very simply, Sharzer remarks, "those who have more currency to begin with do better."
Attempts to establish a local system dismiss the underlying inequalities of the market which it then continues to reinforce.
This comprehensive introduction to the flaws in pro-local propaganda also examines the socio-political theory underpinning it and how that is manifested in local market systems, where the creation of small, independent movements obscures the need for wider social justice.
Drawing on the theories of Marx and Pierre Bourdieu to construct an assured and convincing critique of localism, Sharzer considers its repercussions from immigration to environmental impact.
In so doing he brings into question its radical vision and, ultimately, its potential for change.