...and thus we sample. We sample because there is no way we could gather all of the possible bits of information that would illuminate our research interest. We sample because others, including federal institutions and large organizations have gone before us, and paid the big bucks necessary to produce random probability surveys. We sample because it's what we do, we do it when we read a book, watch a movie, attend a class or taste something new. We sample to gain familiarity.
In terms of research, Luker notes that sampling allows us to get a better
handle on the "subset of facts, observations, people ... we will
pay attention to." (p. 101)
Luker goes on to outline why we sample, and concludes that it's not about
numbers, but about observable phenomenon that we 'just can't put [our] finger
on [as] yet. (p. 103) In thinking about my research question so far, I've
thought about the surveys and interviews I'll need to conduct in order to
collect the data necessary to add value, and which I've sort of indirectly assumed
could serve as population samples. I'm not sure how the two intersect, or
whether they are in fact the same thing...sampling, versus interviews, vs.
surveys. It goes back to the point of "real life in real time' being lots
of noise and not much signals. Mass quantities of information, much of which
intersects, is constantly washing over us and forcing us to decide what's worth
paying attention to.
References: Luker, K. (2008). Salsa dancing into the social sciences: Research in an age of info-glut. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.