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‘What an Idea Sirji!’: Intersections of neo-liberal subjectivities and development discourses in Idea Cellular ads

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The Idea Cellular ad campaign has included advertisements dealing with themes ranging from participative democracy and education for all to ending caste wars and controlling population. I examine the ads for their tendency to posit technology as a solution to solving socio-political problems and in turn idealizing a neo-liberal subject who, aided by technology, can be a unit all into itself. These ads may then be seen to operate as ‘technologies of subjectivity’, with the cell phone network enabling the ‘self-activating capacities’ of the neo-liberal subject. Specifically, I analyse how the ads mix the discourses of inclusive development and neo-liberal reform by reconfiguring the relationship between the state, corporations and the consumer-citizen. Furthermore, I unravel the creative tensions the ads negotiate while forging individual desires and responsibilities into collective goals by exploring how their construction of neo-liberal subjectivities exists in multi-layered processual relations with brand management strategies, development narratives, technological affordances of cell phones and advertising cultures in India.
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Keywords: Idea Cellular campaign; advertisements; consumer-citizen; development; individual; mobile phones; neo-liberalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of California, Santa Barbara

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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  • Studies in South Asian Film and Media (SAFM) is the most promising new journal in the field. This peer-reviewed publication is committed to looking at the media and cinemas of the Indian subcontinent in their social, political, economic, historical, and increasingly globalized and diasporic contexts. The journal will evaluate these topics in relation to class, caste, gender, race, sexuality, and ideology.
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