Theoretical samplingTheoretical samplingis a process of data collection for generating theory whereby the analyst jointly collects codes andanalyses data and decides what data to collect next and where to find them, in order to develop a theory as it emerges.The initial stage of data collection depends largely on a general subject or problem area, which is based on the analyst’sgeneral perspective of the subject area. The initial decisions are not based on a preconceived theoretical framework.Theresearcher begins by identifying some key concepts and features which he/she will research about. This gives a foundationfor the research. A researcher must be theoretically sensitive so that a theory can be conceptualized and formulated as itemerges from the data being collected.Caution must be taken so as to not limit oneself to specific aspects of a theory;this will make a researcher blind towards other concepts and aspects of the theory. The main question in this method ofsampling is this: what groups should the researcher turn to next in the data collection process, and why?History of theoretical samplingAdvantages and disadvantagesKey featuresSampling strategiesUses of theoretical samplingTheoretical saturationExample of theoretical samplingSee alsoReferencesAccording to Chenitz and Swanson (1986), theoretical sampling emerged with the foundation of grounded theory, whichwas first developed by Glaser and Strauss in 1967. Grounded theory can be described as a research approach for thecollection and analysis of qualitative data for the purpose of generating explanatory theory, in order to understand varioussocial and psychological phenomena. Its focus is to develop a theory from continuous comparative analysis of datacollected by theoretical sampling.The main advantage of theoretical sampling is that it strengthens the rigour of the study if the study attempts to generatethe theory in the research area. The application of theoretical sampling provides a structure to data collection as well asdata analysis. It is based on the need to collect more data to examine categories and their relationships and assures thatrepresentativeness exists in the category.Theoretical sampling has inductive as well as deductive characteristics.It isvery flexible as the researcher can make shifts in plans and emphasize early in the research process so that the datagathered reflects what is occurring in the field.ContentsHistory of theoretical samplingAdvantages and disadvantages
Certain disadvantages may be associated with this sampling method. It is a highly systematic method due to whichapplication of theoretical sampling requires more resources like time and money as compared to other samplingmethods.