Power Politics: Environmental Activism in South Los Angeles

TitlePower Politics: Environmental Activism in South Los Angeles
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBrodkin, Karen
PublisherRutgers University Press
CityNew Brunswick, NJ
AbstractIn Power Politics Karen Brodkin analyzes the successful mobilization of environmental justice activists against the construction of a power plant South Gate, a community in southeastern Los Angeles County. The historical and geographical context of the study is quite important considering that the mobilization took place during a major energy shortage throughout California. As such, Power Politics provides an engaging account of successful mobilization during a period of lowered political opportunities. Brodkin draws from a wide variety of informants, including activists, power plant representatives, and local politicians. Her analysis is also grounded in participant observation of community and city council meetings. The work addresses the history of the racial dynamics of the South Gate community, the history of the environmental justice movement in the community, and an analysis of how support and opposition to the power plant developed. Brodkin particularly emphasizes the development of environmental justice activism by South Gate High School students and teachers, who were key players in the mobilization against the plant. Finally, Brodkin analyzes the activities and strategies of the plants’ supporters and opponents during the struggle over whether to build the plant. Scholars of social movements and collective behavior will find many valuable insights in this work. Brodkin’s explicit focus on the impact of class and race on environmental organization may also be of interest to those studying social stratification, race, environmental racism, as well as their interactions.