This is an important account of the development of the ‘field-theory’ approach in the social sciences. Harald Mey concentrates on the writers from the 1930s to the present day who have used this approach to the study of the individual and of society, and gives a clear exposition of such ‘field-theory’ application in its many differing forms. In addition, the author shows how a concept which was initially useful in the physical sciences came to be used first by psychologists, and subsequently by sociologists and others in related disciplines, in their search for answers to the problems presented by the study of society. Mey describes how the use of the ‘field-theory’ perspective has fared when applied to specific areas of social research – education, personal relationships, group behaviour. He also compares the ‘field-theory’ approach to the study of societies with the structural/functional approach, and explains why he believes ‘field-theory’ has a number of advantages over the structural/functional approach, especially when it comes to the dynamic problem of social change.
Table of Contents
Part 1. Presuppositions of Field-Theories in Social Science 1. Certain Observations on Field-Theory in Physics 2. Gestalt Psychology as Field-Theory 3. Basic Assumptions of Lewin’s Topological Psychology: Psychological Field-Theory, Part One 4. Basic Assumptions of Lewin’s Dynamic Psychology: Psychological Field-Theory, Part Two Part 2. The Path Followed by Field-Theory from Individual Psychology to Social Science 5. Moving from the Unit of Consciousness to the Multi-Personal Field, By Way of ‘Psychological Induction’ 6. The Social Field as an Interpersonal Space of Conflict and Tension 7. Contributions to the Theory of the ‘Role-Field’ Part 3. The Field-Theory in Social Science versus the Theories of System and Structures 8. A Criticism of the ‘System’ of Structural Functionalism and of the Departure From ‘Elements’ 9. A First Attempt at the Field-Theory of Society as a Whole 10. Thoughts on Structure and Change Part 4. Social Field-Theories Concerned with Fields of Opinion and Interests 11. Fields of Opinion as a Basis for Norm- and Role-Formation 12. Multi-Person Fields, Image-Fields and the Norm-Field of Society 13. Interest-Fields and Fields of Social Conflict Part 5. Further Applications of the Field-Concept, and Field-Theoretical Methods in Social Sciences 14. Field-Ideas as Applied in Cultural Anthropology 15. On the Educational Concept of Field 16. The Theory of Level of Aspiration, and ‘Opportunities for Climbing’ in the Social Field 17. ‘Field-Models’ in the Sense of a ‘Formal Field-Method’, Together with Final Conclusions Concerning the Methodology