Meta-ethnography is a variety of meta-analyses or qualitative synthesis; that is, it is a way to synthesise the results of ethnographic projects that allows for the study of their interconnectedness while retaining their interpretive nature of ethnographies. It is an advanced technique, primarily used in the fields of health studies and educational research. Meta-ethnography preserves the particularities of the original studies while comparing and contrasting them to explore similarities and differences. It is a method that has theoretical origins and has developed in countries and in disciplines where there is a focus on drawing out the policy implications of ethnographic research.

This entry further defines meta-ethnography and outlines its benefits for ethnographic researchers as well as the controversies associated with it. Three tensions have to be understood to contextualise these controversies: the demands and calls for policy-relevant research, the calls for theoretical adequacy that surrounds meta-ethnography, and the distinction between meta-ethnography and replication. Each of these is illustrated by an examination of a specific example. The policy issue is illustrated by an educational example, the theoretical debate by contrasting the influence of Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault on meta-ethnography, and the differences between the concepts of research replication and that of meta-ethnography are explained.

locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles