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Snowball Sampling, Grounded Theory, and Theoretical Sampling: Roles in Methamphetamine Markets

By: & Published: 2015 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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The focus of my PhD dissertation was to identify the different roles within methamphetamine manufacturing and distributing and, for the first time, to explore interactions among members, identify the amount of agency male and female market members exercise and the different ways in which men and women attempt to avoid detection by law enforcement. My study utilized loosely structured interviews with men and women involved in various methamphetamine market roles to understand how these illicit networks are structured and operated. This case study examines the methodological issues in finding a substantial sample of criminal offenders, as well as conducting research that is both exploratory and groundbreaking. The case sheds light on the usefulness of snowball sampling in finding hard-to-identify populations, grounded theory in analyzing research to find unexpected results, and theoretical sampling to appropriately explore underrepresented areas within the sample. Particular attention is paid to the connection between grounded theory and theoretical sampling as an effective way to identify categories or ranges of responses and then seek out additional participants to include in the sample from underrepresented categories.

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Theoretical sampling

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