The term meta-phenomenon refers to high-level (abstract) categorisation and grouping of facts, acts, ideas or locution realized as phenomena. The term social development, for example, is a meta-phenomenon realized in highly diverse (and sometimes contradictory) expressions of theory and practice. Use of the term meta-phenomenon in this discussion is akin to ‘meta-theory’: a theoretical consideration of the properties of a subject (i.e. a phenomenon), such as its foundations, methods, form and utility, on a higher level of abstraction.
In epistemology, the prefix ‘meta-‘ is used to mean about (its own category). Thus ‘meta-data’ are data about data (who has produced them, when, in what format the data are stored, etc). Also ‘meta-memory’ in psychology refers to an individual’s knowledge about whether or not they would remember something if they concentrated on recalling it.
The prefix ‘meta’ took on the popular meaning of ‘on higher level of abstraction’. A grammar book in linguistics is a good example of this usage, as it addresses the rules of language on a higher level in order to describe properties of that language (and not itself)..
In a rule-based system, a meta-rule is a rule that governs the application of other rules.
- Bartlett, Tom. 2014. Analysing Power in Language: A Practical Guide. Abingdon: Routledge.