Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice

ISSN: 2630-5984

Examining Interpretive Studies of Science: A Meta-ethnography

Mehmet C. Ayar
TUBITAK Science and Society Department, Akay cad. No: 6, Bakanlıklar, Ankara 06420, Turkey
Wenda K. Bauchspies
International Crops Research Institute of the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
Bugrahan Yalvac
Department of Teaching, Learning, & Culture, Texas A&M University, 308 Harrington Tower College Station, TX 77843-4232, USA


This paper aims to examine the interpretive studies of science. Meta-ethnography was employed along with some enhancement strategies supporting case collection, analysis, and synthesis. The study seeks to answer an overarching research question, “What are the descriptions of scientific practice as portrayed by ethnographic studies of science?” Three ethnographies of science were selected and analyzed. The results were organized along three elements: (1) overview of the ethnographic studies, (2) key descriptors, and (3) synthesis. It was found that the three interpretive studies of science had two converging themes: material culture and discursive activity. Each interpretive study revealed its distinct aspects of scientific practice. It was concluded that the material culture is the primary actant that shapes scientists’ further activities, credibility and transformation of the community itself. The discursive activities inherent in scientific communities are a salient agency of doing scientific practice and the construction of scientific knowledge. Additionally, this paper highlights how the professional scientific laboratory is a system of literary inscription, the production of images, and reproduction of culture. This research into interpretive studies of science is to enrich our understanding of scientific practice and inform the potential audience to reconsider the practice of school science and its social structure.

Meta-ethnography, Laboratory studies, Scientific practice, Science education.