Social Anthropology and Emergency Management

One concept I want to develop further with emergency management is social anthropology. In social anthropology we begin to understand that anthropology is well social and we are all part of a social tapestry. In emergency management it is no different that as society develops and changes so does emergency management, everything is fluid.

Let us start with one concept in cultural anthropology, participant observation. In this concept, “Anthropologists compare how people live in different societies at different times and places and come up with theories about why people behave in particular ways.” [1] We need to understand that in participant observation the ideas of anthropology can change and fluctuate like everything else. We compare and contrast society with what society is actually doing. In participant observation anthropologist participate in society, develop relationships, and further understand a “alien” society in a practical frame. I believe understanding a society intently means delving into it head first.

Participant observation came about in the 19th and 20th centuries especially by the work of Bronislaw Malinowski who did much fieldwork. Malinowski was born in Krakow Poland and is called the father of social anthropology. His research was ground breaking at the time. In 1914 he did four years of fieldwork in New Guinea. [2]

Bronislaw Malinowski

What does all this have to do with emergency management? Emergency Managers need to be active participants in their respective communities. According the the US Geological Survey the number of cities and towns in the United States equal about 35,000. I know not all but most have a emergency management office or a person designated to handle such. Sometimes I think a member of the community is a better emergency manager then otherwise. I say that not as a knock against the field but because they know the people. In small towns everyplace the person designated to be the emergency manager know the folks by name and already have developed relationships with them. When hiring outside the community it is almost like you are reinventing the wheel. That person has to come in and build trust with in the community. This outside person needs to be a participant observer with the community. She/He needs to develop those relationships and the only way to do it is to get your hands dirty and really be a part of your community.

To finish up just as I said earlier that participant observation is fluid so is emergency management and emergency managers, Sempre Gumby; Always Flexible. I believe that to be true.

So, My question to you all is what have you done to gain trust in your communities? Do you have a person-to-person relationship in your community? What advice can you give to other emergency managers on how to build relationships and gain new perspective within their communities?

Can’t wait to hear you thoughts!


[1] What is Social Anthropology? (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2019, from


Reclaim the past, save the future a Ted Talk Playlist

I am a proponent of saving the great and small and unclaimed past artifacts and knowledge. It is always a great thing when you know you were one small cog in the wheel to help save a national treasure, whether it be large or small. As the saying goes, paraphrasing, without learning from the past we are doomed to repeat it. So true!

I love Ted Talks and recently found a playlist, had no idea Ted made different playlists on different topics but that is so cool. Anyway, I found a playlist about just list. All about reclaiming out past artifacts, art, and knowledge for future generations.

Here is the link and I hope you have as much fun viewing them as I did:

Have a wonderful wonderful day!

Why Anthropology and Statistics?

Being a Anthropologist is important but even more so being a emergency manager adds another level to using statistics. So I have a couple of questions I wanted to answer for myself that I hope will help others.

What is statistics?

According to Statistics is simply a noun with a definition of “the numerical facts or data themselves”. So are we using math and numbers to tell stories of the data? Yes. We are using this universal language of mathematics to tell the stories about different subjects.

A great resource for the definition of statistics and just to learn more about statistics is the American Statistical Association (ASA) web page on this subject.

Why is statistics useful?

Have you looked at the weather forecast lately? That uses statistics heavily. Have you used a percent to find tip for a restaurant? You have just used statistics. Have you ever done research and found numbers to describe a graph to tell a story? You have just read and learned a little bit to interpret statistics.

Here is a great article by John Marsh written back in September of 2014 with a great list of reasons to use statistics. Article: 10 Awesome Reasons Why Statistics Are Important; Link:

Much of public safety statistics are in rational database. I had no idea what a rational database was so I did my research. It is a database to help in the finding of relationships between items. If you ask me that is really awesome and in need. mySQL is a great resource to learn to discover these relationships.

I 100% agree with a recent article I found on the Geek Anthropologist website. Here is a link to the article:

Anthropologists really do need to be using statistics more. Especially to tell stories of data that can be used by others.

Let me know what your thoughts are about statistics and its uses. As a social scientist have you used statistics and if so what have you learned that can help others? If you are a anthropologist how have you used statistics in school and practically?

Hope to hear from you soon!