Chapter 7 Sampling
Who or What?
Remember back in Chapter 1 "Introduction" when we saw the cute photo of the babies hanging out together and one of them was wearing a green onesie? I mentioned there that if we were to conclude that all babies wore green based on the photo that we would have committed selective observation. In that example of informal observation, our sampling strategy (just observing the baby in green) was of course faulty, but we nevertheless would have engaged in sampling. Sampling has to do with selecting some subset of one’s group of interest (in this case, babies) and drawing conclusions from that subset. How we sample and who we sample shapes what sorts of conclusions we are able to draw. Ultimately, this chapter focuses on questions about the who or the what that you want to be able to make claims about in your research. In the following sections we’ll define sampling, discuss different types of sampling strategies, and consider how to judge the quality of samples as consumers of social scientific research.