Sociology Gold: The sociology research of Goldsmiths, University of London

The Art of Listening (2007)

Les Back

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.

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