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This article analyzes the phenomenon of homeland security through the development of four conceptual lenses that were created out of the existing literatures in criminal justice, public administration, organization behavior, risk management, international relations, and the overlap between them. Using terrorism as a proxy for the homeland security enterprise, these conceptual lenses include: (1) homeland security as a criminal justice problem which views terrorism as a crime; (2) homeland security as a international relations problem which views terrorism as a war; (3) homeland security as an organization design problem which views terrorism as a network of sub-state transnational actors; and (4) homeland security as a collaborative nexus which views terrorism as a complex mixture of social, political, economic, and environmental issues; that is, lens 4 represents an overlap of lenses 1-3. Each conceptual lens consists of theories, practices, values, beliefs, and assumptions that serve to shape how homeland security is conceptualized. We recognize that homeland security is a broad field applied science that incorporates natural, technological, and manmade hazards and threats. Perhaps to best exemplify the complex and evolving nature of the homeland security enterprise, terrorism can be an effective proxy for how homeland security might be conceptualized and how a theoretical foundation might be structured. These conceptual lenses highlight how perceptual filters can significantly alter how individuals and organizations understand and explain phenomena or events.

Publication Title

Homeland Security Affairs

Additional Information

Dr. James Ramsay is now a member of the Department of Security Studies and International Affairs and all further publications will be added to that area.