Author: Ramesh Aroli
Author Affiliation: Department of Journalism, Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi.
Abstract: This paper makes an attempt to understand the role of digital printing technology in general and digital flex banners in particular, which according to media scholars is ‘democratised’ its usage and made available to all marginalised groups. Flex banners, being part of advanced printing technology, is seen as an important canvas to draw and display the ‘iconic’ or ‘heroic’ images of ‘self’ and believed that they are used to occupy the social space of the locality. From ‘technological determinism’ theory point of view, in a way, digital technology (in the form of flex banners) has become a media force for various socio-political groups/ languages to ‘see’ themselves in the public place and express their political aspirations in various forms with abundant creativity. In recent times, in India, both in urban and rural set up, it is evident that this popular exercise of putting up flex banners and claiming the social space is turned to be a public culture, through which even non-dominant groups have started demonstrating their presence in the areas they live in. But on the other hand, the available empirical evidences are disproving that the social status of communities can be determined solely based on the availability of technology. To examine it, this present paper focuses on the display of digital flex banners bearing the image of B.R Ambedkar from the Kannada TV serial Mahanayaka (the great leader) in rural area of Karnataka, tries to understand this ‘arena of conflict’ and
critically engages with the questions that are evolving from the practice of visibility and social dominance.
Keywords: digital printing, social space, dalits.