Lost investment in factories was only part of the neighborhood’s downhill trend. And maybe not even the biggest part. When looking at a society’s strengths, sociologists like Murray often discuss “social capital.” What they mean is, who would care if you were mugged? If your child is mistreated at school? If teachers are disrespected—or disreputable? If the Little League needs coaches? If the seniors’ home needs a patio and garden? In a healthy community, people volunteer their time to address a variety of local needs. In a less healthy community, they focus on their own needs or those of loved ones. As a result, they may win a minor personal victory, but the community declines.
For example, people turn their homes into fortresses, but crime rules the streets at night.