Social Research Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home


Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-19, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 23 January, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2019.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Form refers to the physical shape or manifestation of an object or social phenomenon.

explanatory context

As a noun form refers to the outward appearance of an object or social practice. This is usually refers to its physical shape (the form of a sculpture) or its observable manifestations (as in the form taken by a religion).


As a verb form refers to the shaping principle, as in the action of forming something from indeterminate material.

analytical review

Esaak (undated) wrote:

noun) - Form is an element of art. At its most basic, a form is a three-dimensional geometrical figure (i.e.: sphere, cube, cylinder, cone, etc.), as opposed to a shape, which is two-dimensional, or flat.

In a broader sense, form, in art, means the whole of a piece's visible elements and the way those elements are united. In this context, form allows us as viewers to mentally capture the work and understand it.

Finally, form refers to the visible elements of a piece, independent of their meaning. For example, when viewing Leonardo's Mona Lisa, the formal elements therein are: color, dimension, lines, mass, shape, etc., while the feelings of mystery and intrigue the piece evokes are informal products of the viewer's imagination.

associated issues


related areas

See also





Esaak, S., undated, 'Form' available at, accessed 28 February 2013, still available 20 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2019


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home