Seeing as Harrison is a volunteer firefighter, he found no better subject to measure the impacts of social capital. The main reason firefighting was chosen is that it thought as a common social service, with little variance in type of service between communities. Since most fire departments are run as funded and overseen by government organizations, any impact social capital has on local government operations might indirectly impact the delivery of fire protection, on top of the direct impact social capital may already provide.
While the original study was statistical analysis, problems in providing answers through the data meant a new method to compare social capital and fire protection had to be thought up. To compensate for problems in statistical analysis, two case studies were chosen – Greensboro, North Carolina and Rochester, New York. Using readily available data from the respective fire departments, and community growth organizations these two cities were studied to help answer the question, ŇIf social capital increases, will fire protection services become better?Ó
In the end, the results from these two case studies shows that there is a correlation between social capital levels and effective fire protection, but the better fire protection isnŐt necessarily a result of higher social capital. Does that mean that we shouldnŐt care about social capital? Absolutely not – in fact, there are enough proposed benefits based on research from experts in the area, such as Robert Putnam, that suggests social capital is something that communities need to promote.
(Click on the two postcards to learn more about each of the individual studies)