This provocative volume deals with one of the chief criticisms of ethnographic studies, a criticism which centres on their particularism or their insistence on context -- the question is asked: How can these studies be generalized beyond the individual case? Noblit and Hare propose a method -- meta-ethnography -- for synthesizing from qualitative, interpretive studies. They show that ethnographies themselves are interpretive acts, and demonstrate that by translating metaphors and key concepts between ethnographic studies, it is possible to develop a broader interpretive synthesis. Using examples from numerous studies, the authors illuminate how meta-ethnography works, isolate several types of meta-ethnographic study and provide a theoretical justification for the method's use.
As noted previously, Geertz (1973: 19) sees interpretivists as “inscribing” a culture when they write their accounts and reveal the “webs of significance” (p. 5) in a social and cultural situation. In doing a meta-ethnography, we are also “inscribing.” The inscription is essentially written in the form of ...