Lev-On, A. (Accepted for Publication). Democratizing the discourse on criminal justice in social media: The activity for justice for Roman Zadorov as a case study. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications.

The outcomes of police investigations and legal proceedings frequently remain shielded from public scrutiny, leaving ordinary individuals devoid of access to these results and devoid of platforms for discourse. As a result, the general public’s ability to access legal materials and partake in informed discussions about them remains constricted, often reliant on processed information disseminated through mainstream media channels. However, what unfolds when materials become accessible and discussion platforms attain viability? This article studies the conditions that lead to more meaningful and extensive participation by non-state actors in criminal investigations. It also examines the attributes and consequences of the “democratization of knowledge” concerning legal cases, exemplified by the expansive public discourse surrounding the Zadorov trial on Israeli social media platforms. The paper highlights three conditions of such democratization processes: (1) the digitization of investigative materials, (2) the transparency of investigative materials to the public, and (3) the existence of discursive arenas in which people can discuss the case. I proceed to outline several ramifications stemming from the previously discussed traits of these democratization processes: (1) The preservation of materials related to individuals implicated in specific troublesome situations; (2) The utilization of “raw materials” to articulate stances and viewpoints; (3) The employment of materials to construct narratives that diverge significantly from those embraced by the establishment; and (4) The recurrent references to private individuals or public officials who might be deemed unprofessional or even corrupt.


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