Post-truth politics refers to the way politicians use the enormous amounts of data generated by smart technologies to shape the policy platforms on which they campaign for office (Davies, 2016). For example, the Trump campaign cherry-picked findings from empirical data and used them to incite fear or anger in the conservative political base (Todd et al., 2017). The results of this study, illustrate how using PAR can counter the efforts of populist political movements to cherry-pick data. Teaching students how to use PAR as a tool for community practice, helps students learn that the data generated by the community is an authentic and credible way of understanding the community, because it illuminates the multiple truths that exist for a community.
Methods: This design of this study engages a constructivist paradigm as described by Schwandt (1998). As coursework, students generated reflection papers and an evaluation of the project. These artifacts constitute the data for this project. The data analysis includes grounded theory methods (Charmaz, 2014) and a focus on post-truth politics.
Results: Three distinct, but related categories emerged from the data analysis. These categories arose in response to our research question. A) Supporting cultural competence: Students find the implementation and evaluation of the photovoice project to support a culturally relevant approach to community practice. B) Facilitating self-awareness: Many students describe how their participation in the facilitation of the photovoice project led to increased self-awareness regarding professional roles and personal values. C) Viewing truth as multi-faceted: This final category illustrates how students perceive photovoice as a format that allowed for multifaceted truths to emerge among the participant-researchers and for the MSW students.
Conclusions/Implications: In relationship to education in a post-truth era, the PAR experience helps students to see "truth" as multi-faceted. The students learn that the community contains a multitude of perceptions and experiences on this topic and that PAR creates a safe, culturally relevant, and respectful structure for presenting the community's multiple truths.