Corporate versus Community Power: A Santa Barbara Story


  • Richard Flacks University of California Santa Barbara



Oil corporations, Community power, Environmental movement


Fifty years ago, a massive oil well blowout and subsequent oil spill triggered community resistance to oil company operations in Santa Barbara county and its surrounding waters. The county has had surprising success in regulating and reducing oil development. That success is due to the combined effectds of grassroots mobilization, longterm organization, and the availability of state agencies and laws that legitimize community  participation in corporarte development approvals. Despite Santa Barbara's relative affluence, its ongoing battle with the oil industry may be useful for formulating a theory of community empowerment globally.

Author Biography

Richard Flacks, University of California Santa Barbara

Research Professor, Department of sociology


Eve Bach; Thomas Brom; Julia Estrella; Lenny Goldberg and Edward Kirschner. 1976. The Cities’ Wealth: Programs for Community Economic Control in Berkeley, California. Washington: National Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies

Jeremy Brecher & Tim Costello. 1999. Global Village or Global Pillage: Economic Reconstruction from the Bottom Up. Boston: South End Press.

Martin Carnoy & Derek Shearer. 1980. Economic Democracy. New York: Routledge

Mark McGinnes. 2018. In Love With Earth. Santa Barbara Communty Environmental Council.

Paul Relis. 2015. Out of the Wasteland. Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council.




How to Cite

Flacks, R. (2019). Corporate versus Community Power: A Santa Barbara Story. Journal of World-Systems Research, 25(1), 35–41.



Symposium: Corporate Power and Local Democracy