ERIC Number: ED221595
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees: The Failures of Synthesis for the Desegregation Ethnographies.
Noblit, George W.
The failure to attain a true synthesis of six ethnographic studies of interracial education in desegregated schools is examined. Detailed individual descriptions of desegregation processes were yielded but the failure of summary attempts is attributed to the lack of a theory of social explanation appropriate to interpretive social science, and a lack of understanding of the relationship of social research to practice. A policy-relevant method of ethnographic synthesis considering the nature of explanation is presented. The essay summary and full report summary formats were aggregate result approaches placing aggregation above understanding. Context became the confounding variable in the search for common findings. A truly adequate explanation is much more involved and requires a comparative understanding by defining a "puzzle" of conjunctions of hypotheses for an explanation that "translates" the practices and conditions within the schools to each other, lessening the research contraints of policy. Both the hypotheses and the explicit comparison are maintained to guard against the threat of utilitarian culture on ethnographic syntheses. Utilitarian culture seeks to explain struggle, power and emotion as technical problems in prediction and control. (CM)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: National Institute of Education
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (66th, New York, NY, March 19-23, 1982).