“Field” as place is less a spatial than a relational concept. It signifies no essential qualities of physical locale, but rather the distinctive uses to which places have been put. Places we label “field” are those that were not made exclusively for scientific use-as were workshops, laboratories, and offices-but have harbored a range of different users and uses. In the field, phenomena are situated, and users cannot perfectly control the contingencies of natural and social environment. That has been the great advantage of the field for science-that contingencies are inescapably part of scientific subjects-and its special challenge. Field methods and practices thus have varied widely, often borrowing from the vernacular or everyday practices of other users. A survey of histories of field science shows an ever-widening range of places of interest: horizontally to the far corners of the globe, vertically from oceanic and tectonic depths to atmospheric and inter-planetary heights.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Arts and Humanities