Social Capital describes the trust and confidence that participants, staff, law enforcement, and medical personnel have in the Rangers, our “street cred.” Social capital is a key source of authority in the city. Without the confidence of participants and staff, we would be unable to function effectively.
The Black Rock Rangers have cultivated our social capital with participants and staff through our reputation, credibility, and effectiveness. We do this by helping participants in trouble, treating everyone with respect, and acting professionally and with integrity, thus we have, over time, built up a lot of social capital.
Because of the Rangers’ Social Capital, participants and staff will listen to you in a way that they would not listen to a random participant offering advice or asking them to change their behavior. Law enforcement, medical, and other departments will often seek your assistance and pay attention to your input.
When Rangers are perceived as helpful, effective, collaborative, professional, and impartial (i.e., high social capital), we will be listened to, taken seriously, and trusted.
When Rangers are perceived as authoritarian, uptight, entitled, unprofessional, or incompetent (i.e., low social capital), we will be ignored or resisted.
Adding to or Subtracting from Our Social Capital
Social Capital is like a bank account: every good interaction you have with a participant or staff member makes a deposit into our Social Capital account, and every bad interaction withdraws from it. Unfortunately, bad interactions with Rangers often make good stories, so participants will tend to tell all their friends when they’ve seen a Ranger acting unprofessional or authoritarian. When you do good, you make a small deposit in our account; when you do bad, you make a huge withdrawal. We expect every Ranger to act as an ambassador and an educator, both to participants and to other staff. When out in the city or on a call, talk to participants and staff about what we do and why we do it. Let them know that we’re here for them, and show them by your actions that we are a resource they can trust.