Localization is a technique which allows one to concentrate attention to what is happening near a prime, for example. When you localize at a prime, you have simplified abruptly the behavior of your ring outside that prime but you have more or less kept everything inside it intact.
For lots of questions, this significantly simplifies things.
Indeed, there are very general procedures, in lots of contexts, which go by the name of localization, and their purpose is usually the same: if you are lucky, the problems you are interested in can be solved locally and then the "local solutions" can be glued together to obtain a solution to your original problem. Moreover, an immense deal of effort has been done in order to extent the meaning of "local" so as to be able to apply this strategy in more contexts: I have always loved the way the proofs of some huge theorems of algebraic geometry consist more or less in setting up an elaborate technology in order to be able to say the magical "It is enough to prove this locally", and then, thanks to the fact that we worked so much in that technology, immediately conclude the proof with a "where it is obvious" :)
Of course, all sort of bad things can happen. For example, sometimes the "local solutions" cannot be glued together into a "global solution", &c. (Incidentally, when this happens, so that you can do something locally but not glue the result, you end up with a cohomology theory which, more or less, is the art of dealing with that problem)