Quick Reference

1. A bounded area.

2. (field of study) A particular academic area of investigation, traditionally within a single academic discipline (such as sociology or linguistics), but often in contemporary research, crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries. For instance, the internet is a field of study for researchers from many disciplines in the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences.

3. For Bourdieu, a network of individuals and institutions which forms the context for individual endeavour in a particular domain (cultural, philosophical, political, or scientific) and which competes for dominance with other fields (e.g. the literary field and the educational field).

4. The everyday setting of ethnographic research: see ethnography.

5. (video engineering) One of two subdivisions of a video frame: one field contains all the odd TV lines; the other all the even ones. Each field decodes as a still image of video, but in interlaced video standards (which include PAL and NTSC) the images captured in each field are slightly different. Since the playback head cycles between these, a still frame of interlaced video is not a static image like a frame of film. See also interlace frame.

6. (data field) In a database, a single category of data (typically displayed as a column), with a field heading such as ‘surname’ or ‘age’. Such fields apply to all of the records listed, so that for each individual, the surname and age fields would contain the corresponding data for that person. Surname would be an alphanumeric field so that the records could be sorted into alphabetical order. Age would be a numeric field so that the records could be sorted into ascending or descending order by age.

7. (visual field) In the psychology of perception, the area that can be seen from a particular location at a particular moment. For James Gibson, the ambient optical array on the retina.

8. (attentional field) (cognitive psychology) All objects, thoughts, and concepts presently within consciousness: see also attention.

9. (field theory) (social psychology) An approach which views behaviour holistically in terms of the individual's overall psychological environment (field or life-space)—in which individuals, their significant others, and their needs, goals, and perceptual framings are seen as dynamically interacting. The concept derives from Kurt Lewin (1890–1947), a German-American psychologist.

Subjects: Media Studies.

Reference entries