Cross cultural collaborative ethnography: a contradiction in terms?

Jeffrey, Bob and Troman, Geoff (2010). Cross cultural collaborative ethnography: a contradiction in terms? In: Paolone, A. ed. Education Between Boundaries: Comparison, Ethnography, Education. Padova: Imprimitur Editrice, pp. 122–133.


Osborn (2004) argues for the identification and utilisation of innovative research methodologies which are required to develop the 'contextual sensitivity' of comparative studies and which aim to link systems, schools and individual learners through comparative study. This is important because the forms of teaching and learning described and analysed will, inevitably, be a 'function of the national cultural contexts and national educational traditions' in which they occur in specific localities. These studies, therefore, have a focus on 'individuals and groups of learners situated within a larger cultural context' (p.269). Cross-cultural; collaborative research within the 'new' tradition aims to 'contribute to a collective understanding of the inter-relatedness of the various cultural factors concerned and the danger of crude policy borrowing' (p.268).

We are left with the problem, then, of how to operationalise comparative research with many cross-cultural partners, include the full range of qualitative research methods, and conduct data analysis during and at the end of the project while still maintaining cultural sensitivity? We turn to the case of the CLASP research and how we dealt with some of these issues, in particular, the focus will be on data analysis in the final stages of the project, though, as will be discerned from the discussion, data-analysis in ethnography is an ongoing process.

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