Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Jesse Goldstein

Second Advisor

Julie Honnold

Third Advisor

Herbert Hirsch


The local food movement has become a prominent force in the U.S. food market, as represented by the explosive expansion of direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketplaces across the country. Concurrent with the expansion of these DTC marketplaces has been the development of the social ideal of localism: a political and ethical paradigm that valorizes artisanal production and smallness, vilifies globalization, and seeks to recapture a sense of place and community that has been lost under the alienating conditions of capitalism’s gigantism. Supporters of localism understand the movement to be a substantial political and economic threat to global capitalism, and ascribe distinct, counter-hegemonic attributes to localized consumption and production. However, critics argue that localism lacks the political imagination and economic power to meaningfully challenge global capitalism, and that it merely represents an elite form of petite bourgeois consumption. While scholars have debated this issue feverishly, there is a dearth of empirical cases measuring whether or not actual local consumers understand their local consumption within the political and ethical frame of localism, leaving much of the discussion in the realm of esoteric theorizing. This study seeks to uncover whether or not local consumers interpret their local consumption habits within localism’s moral framework by using an original survey instrument to gather primary data, and conducting an exploratory quantitative inquiry.


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