Background Ethnography, originally developed for the study of supposedly small-scale societies, is now faced with an increasingly mobile, changing and globalised world. Cultural identities can exist without reference to a specific location and extend beyond regional and national boundaries. It is therefore no longer imperative that the sole object of the ethnographer's practice should be a geographically bounded site.
Aim To present a critical methodological review of multi-sited ethnography.
Discussion Understanding that it can no longer be taken with any certainty that location alone determines culture, multi-sited ethnography provides a method of contextualising multi-sited social phenomena. The method enables researchers to examine social phenomena that are simultaneously produced in different locations. It has been used to undertake cultural analysis of diverse areas such as organ trafficking, global organisations, technologies and anorexia.
Conclusion The authors contend that multi-sited ethnography is particularly suited to nursing research as it provides researchers with an ethnographic method that is more relevant to the interconnected world of health and healthcare services.
Implications for practice Multi-sited ethnography provides nurse researchers with an approach to cultural analysis in areas such as the social determinants of health, healthcare services and the effects of health policies across multiple locations.