Life Story: Enemie or ally of the post-truth?

Versión en español:

In social research it is necessary to look for sources of information that can provide reliability and reproducibility.

One great way for verbal enrichment and notoriety is the Life Story, which –as a qualitative technique– tends to generate an alternative vision about some social phenomenon.

The main characteristic of this strategy is the diversity of perspectives that can be obtained for other varied instruments or techniques. However, in Social Sciences, when we’re recovering data, it faces the deliberate distortion of a reality, which manipulates thoughts and emotions to influence in the public opinion and social attitudes (that is, post-truth, according to the Real Academia de la Lengua Española).

But why to speak about post-truth?

Post-truth has been on fashion since it became the word of 2016 for the Oxford English Dictionary. The trending coincided with the Brexit Referendum and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America.

Do you remember it?  This could tell us that it is an expression to disqualify decisions, to manipulate them, must of the time are wrong, or the ignorant and easy influential. Although this use has been able to contribute to its diffusion, we are facing an even deeper problem. Societies find their construction from the words. That’s why we use the post-truth to interpret the technique, which is in a certain way tricky because, in practice, not everything is true.

If the researcher is limited to use just this technique to bring things into certain fields, the social aspects will remain within a “showcase”. We do not want science that smells like insecticides, for example, physics is inclined to make accounts of the universe, sociology to “dematerialize”. Numbers rule the universe, but men rule numbers. A wise person only discovers the laws of the universe under the condition of decomposing the world into closed systems, of distinguishing in these a hierarchy of conditions and of arriving; the researcher, in another way, make the presence of  phenomenons in which the everything is different from the set of parts, everything reacts on everything; so that, when it is separated and the relations are just formulated, they have already changed.

Let’s take a practical example, maybe at some point in your school you have heard about life stories, but do you really know what life stories are about? The life stories as part of qualitative research, states that reality is socially constructed through experiences that could be built by you and the community with which you live. As simple as that. As a way to preserve the legacy of our culture. What can enrich it, is to look for other people, figures of influence for our initial or primary subject that can help us to understand a broader context, in this way we could even identify the situation as if it were our own. The idea is to find the convergence point between the different life stories that can give a more fruitful data extraction. A very important part of the research stands in the way you want to approach your research topics. You have to plan it, you have to always keep in mind what your topic is (it is necessary that you don’t lose sight of your central theme, otherwise you could lose yourself when looking for information).

Like you, the ethics in research work for me is a priority. Exequiel Emanuel, (cited in Botto, 2011), proposed seven basic requirements to evaluate ethical aspects in investigations; among which I recommend you pay more attention to social value (of what serves people), scientific validity (that follows a scientific rigour), determination of the subjects that will participate in the study (be selective to choose subjects that enrich our work and respect for potential participants or those enrolled. (Dr. Carol Y. Irizarry Robles –Director and Editor in Chief–, 2009).

So with what we have already seen, what can we learn? That the history of a person’s life can indeed be an ally of post-truth; the thoughts, the opinions, the feelings that people produce are based on individual views, although the same observations of the post-truth in the life stories can be demonstrated, through the analysis, new elements for the understanding of data in a certain environment.


ASALE, R.-. (s. f.). «Diccionario de la lengua española» – Edición del Tricentenario. Recuperado 12 de junio de 2019, de «Diccionario de la lengua española» – Edición del Tricentenario website:

Dra. Carol Y. Irizarry Robles (directora y Editora Principal), D. R. B. (2009, agosto 17). Revista Griot, Recuperado 12 de junio de 2019, de

José Fernando García, twitter: @jose_garciadiaz
Jessica Mireles, twitter: @Jessica_Mirest
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