Our culture is one that speaks rather than listens. From reality TV to political rallies, there is a clamour to be heard, to narrate, and to receive attention. It reduces 'reality' to revelation and voyeurism. The Art of Listening argues that this way of life is having severe and damaging consequences in a world that is increasingly globalized and interconnected. It addresses the question: how can we listen more carefully? Social and cultural theory is combined with real stories from the experiences of the desperate stowaways who hide in the undercarriages of jet planes in order to seek asylum, to the young working-class people who use tattooing to commemorate a lost love. The Art of Listening shows how sociology is in a unique position to record 'life passed in living' and to listen to complex experiences with humility and ethical care, providing a resource to understand the contemporary world while pointing to the possibility of a different kind of future.
Les Back is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a co-editor of The Auditory Culture Reader.
Speaking of Remarkable Things * Lines of Hate, Colours of Memory * Falling From the Sky * Concrete Screens and the Urban Uncanny * Listening with our Eyes * Inscriptions of Love * Curiosity at its Limit * Conclusion: Shelf Life * Postscript: Dancing and Wrestling with Scholarship