Field theory in sociology examines how individuals construct social fields, and how they are affected by such fields. Social fields are environments in which competition between individuals and between groups takes place, such as markets, academic disciplines, musical genres, etc.
Unstable fields are defined by rapid change and frequently by destructive forms of competition, such as pure competition over prices that drives profit margins to untenably low levels. Fields thus need to be stabilized with rules which make sure that competition takes non-destructive forms. Stable fields rarely emerge on their own, but must be constructed by skilled enterpreneurs. The government frequently plays a role in this process as well.
Fields feature different positions which social actors can occupy. The dominant players in the field are called the incumbents. They are generally invested in maintaining the field in its current form, as changes to the rules of competition risk destabilizing their dominant position. Fields may also feature insurgents who instead aim to alter the field so they can successfully compete with the incumbents. Dramatic change in previously stable fields can come from either successful incumbents or intrusion from other fields, or from government-imposed rule change. In general, different field positions create different incentives. Field position is experienced by individuals in the form of motivation.[2
Bourdieu's theory about media and cultural production
Bourdieu’s most significant work on cultural production is available in two books: The Field of Cultural Production (1993) and The Rules of Art (1996).
David Hesmondhalgh writes that “by ‘Cultural production’ Bourdieu intends a very broad understanding of culture, in line with the tradition of classical sociology, including science (which in turn includes social science), law and religion, as well as expressive-aesthetic activities such as art, literature and music. However, his work on cultural production focuses overwhelmingly on two types of field or sub-field of cultural production (…): literature and art.”
According to Pierre Bourdieu “the principal obstacle to a rigorous science of the production of the value of cultural goods” is the “charismatic ideology of ‘creation’ “ which can be easily found in studies of art, literature and other cultural fields. In Bourdieu’s opinion charismatic ideology ‘directs the gaze towards the apparent producer and prevents us from asking who has created this “creator” and the magic power of transubstantiation with which the “creator” is endowed’.
For Bourdieu, a sociologically informed view of an artist ought to describe their influences, antagonisms, etc, i.e. their relations to the field of production; and also should describe their attitudes to their readers, enthusiasts or detractors, i.e. their relations to the field of consumption. Further, a work of literature, for example, may not adequately be analysed either as the product of the author’s life and beliefs (a naively biographical account), or without any reference to the author’s intentions (as Barthes argued). In short, “the subject of a work is a habitus in relationship with a ‘post’, a position, that is, within a field.”
In sociology, Mechanical Solidarity and Organic Solidarity refer to the concepts of solidarity as developed by . They are used in the context of differentiating between mechanical and organic societies.
According to Durkheim, the types of social solidarity correlate with types of society. Durkheim introduced the terms “mechanical” and “organic solidarity” as part of his theory of the development of societies in The Division of Labour in Society (1893). In a society exhibiting mechanical solidarity, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals—people feel connected through similar work, educational and religious training, and lifestyle. Mechanical solidarity normally operates in “traditional” and small scale societies. In simpler societies (e.g., tribal), solidarity is usually based on kinship ties of familial networks. Organic solidarity comes from the interdependence that arises from specialization of work and the complementarities between people—a development which occurs in “modern” and “industrial” societies. Definition: it is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies. Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interests, the order and very solidarity of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specified tasks. Organic here is referring to the interdependence of the component parts. Thus, social solidarity is maintained in more complex societies through the interdependence of its component parts (e.g., farmers produce the food to feed the factory workers who produce the tractors that allow the farmer to produce the food).