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Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Editor-in-Chief: Renda-Tanali, Irmak, D.Sc.

Managing Editor: McGee, Sibel, Ph.D.

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Sociology and the National Incident Management System (NIMS): Oil and Water?

Thomas Henkey
Published Online: 2011-07-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1547-7355.1912

Like many previous areas of study, disaster science is in the process of incorporating a disparate range of analytical and operational concepts into a single, relatively unified discipline. As a “new” science, the field is experiencing simultaneous growth as both an academic topic of study, and as an operational profession. The number of accredited degree programs and the number of professional emergency managers have each grown exponentially in recent years.This realization leads to several simple, yet important, questions: Do emergency management and sociology maintain any meaningful communication with one another? In what ways might academics and practitioners interact? What is the path to translate science theory into practice?Here, we will compare and contrast the academic and practical realms of sociology and disaster science. The methodology will include a review of the search strategies employed, a brief examination of the existing literature, and results from a recent survey of practitioners. Overviews of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and of traditional or established sociological science will also be provided. These two vantage points will then be compared and contrasted, and the possibility of a combined model examined. This overview will conclude with a summary of the state of the disaster sciences, and the identification of a suggested path forward, which includes increased educational interaction.In essence, the core query becomes whether or not primary elements of sociology are compatible with hierarchal command structures such as NIMS. Of course, the greater conversation regarding disaster science does not exist in a bubble. It has an outcome upon which large numbers of human lives quite literally depend.

Keywords: emergency management; disaster science; sociology; NIMS; education

About the article

Published Online: 2011-07-28

Citation Information: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Volume 8, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1547-7355, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1547-7355.1912.

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