Socially disruptive periods and topics from information-theoretical analysis of judicial decisions
Dept. Chemical Engineering, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 43007, Tarragona, Catalonia
2 Dept. Private Law, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 43003, Tarragona, Catalonia
3 ICREA, 08017, Barcelona, Catalonia
Accepted: 20 December 2022
Published online: 3 February 2023
Laws and legal decision-making regulate how societies function. Therefore, they evolve and adapt to new social paradigms and reflect changes in culture and social norms, and are a good proxy for the evolution of socially sensitive issues. Here, we use an information-theoretic methodology to quantitatively track trends and shifts in the evolution of large corpora of judicial decisions, and thus to detect periods in which disruptive topics arise. When applied to a large database containing the full text of over 100,000 judicial decisions from Spanish courts, we are able to identify an abrupt change in housing-related decisions around 2016. Because our information-theoretic approach pinpoints the specific content that drives change, we are also able to interpret the results in terms of the role played by legislative changes, landmark decisions, and the influence of social movements.
Key words: Judicial decisions / Topic model / Information theory
© The Author(s) 2023
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