The social sciences attempt to explain through research and discussion just how complex society is at any given time in documented history. Social scientists make recommendations for change, and also work to explain how individuals interact – among many other areas that social scientists touch in their overall research process.
These research studies are particularly important to emergency management, as it helps emergency managers to understand where to concentrate their efforts in a society in order to maintain preparedness and to also manage a crisis once it has occurred.
Community violence has seen an increase in recent years–both through riots and active shooter scenarios. Different areas of academic scholarship contemplate how this issue affects society through their discipline’s lens. While community violence is a public health issue and, of course, a sociological phenomenon, it is becoming increasingly important for emergency managers to contemplate what is specifically happening in society to better prepare for these types of emergencies when they happen in a large-scale context.
Those in EDM must look at how different aspects of academic disciplines view an issue to tighten their disaster management plans. Emergency managers should also use the social sciences to figure out where they need to concentrate their efforts to effectively manage emergencies.
Community Violence as a Public Health Issue
Community violence affects healthcare, especially when there are multiple patients associated with community violence–for example, when riots arise. Darla Thompson recently wrote a briefing from a conference highlighting specifically how community violence traumatizes communities. She also discussed community resiliency concepts, which are issues that also directly affect emergency management efforts, too.
Community Violence as a Law Enforcement Issue
Community violence is, of course, a law enforcement issue, as well. Police departments must be vigilant in keeping outbreaks of community violence minimal, and also about getting those off the street who are committing these offenses.
The use of force has become a tremendous issue, and is one that the United States Department of Justice strongly recommends revisiting for each community – especially with the increase in violence. How these concerns are handled becomes an important piece to understanding specifically just how community violence may continue to erupt.
Using the Social Sciences and Other Lenses for Emergency Management
Much like how the public health and law enforcement communities contemplate how community violence will impact these areas within society, the emergency management community must also contemplate how community violence will impact it.
This goes beyond the disaster management plans that many emergency managers develop. Instead, emergency managers need to utilize the social sciences to contemplate how and why issues like this will affect the overall community. In doing so, emergency managers will be preparing for what might be coming down the pipe in terms of potential crises on the horizon. Additionally, they should review how other disciplines look at a given issue as it may help them to tighten their plans.