Polarization of Deliberative and Participatory Activists on Social Media

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Polarization of Deliberative and Participatory Activists on Social Media


  • Azi Lev-On School of Communication, Ariel University, Israel


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Abstract:  The article demonstrates how social media activism polarizes and clusters into distinct deliberative and participatory arenas, using the case study of online activism for justice for Roman Zadorov in Israel. Zadorov was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Still, an overwhelming majority of Israelis think he is innocent, with the social media obstruction-of-justice campaign in his support having raised overwhelming exposure and engagement. Theorists distinguish between participatory and deliberative public processes. Supporters of participatory processes advocate for the participation of multiple stakeholders in addressing public concerns. Supporters of deliberative processes advocate for a thorough evaluation of arguments for and against any course of action before decision-making. This study demonstrates how people congregate online and polarize into deliberative and participatory clusters. The “deliberative” cluster is characteristic of groups led by admins who advocate reaching the truth through exposing relevant information and conducting fact-based deliberation. The “participatory” cluster is characteristic of groups led by admins who believe that their activities should aim exclusively at generating more attention and engagement with the general public.

Keywords:  activism; deliberation; Israel; obstruction-of-justice campaign; participation; polarization; protest; Roman Zadorov; social media

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v10i4.5637


© Azi Lev-On. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.