Listening PublicsThe Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age
Listening Publics
The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age
In focusing on the practices, politics and ethics of listening, this wide-ranging book offers an important new perspective on questions of media audiences, publics and citizenship. Listening is central to modern communication, politics and experience, but is commonly overlooked and underestimated in a culture fascinated by the spectacle and the politics of voice.

<i>Listening Publics</i> restores listening to media history and to theories of the public sphere. In so doing it opens up profound questions for our understanding of mediated experience, public participation and civic engagement.

Taking a cross-national and interdisciplinary approach, the book explores how listening publics have been constituted in relation to successive media technologies from the invention of writing to the digital age. It asks how new practices of listening associated with sound and audiovisual media transform a public world forged in the age of print.

Through detailed histories and sophisticated theoretical analysis, <i>Listening Publics</i> demonstrates the embodied and critical activity of listening to be a rich concept with which to rethink the practices, politics and ethics of media communication.
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  • May 2013
  • 248 pages
  • 158 x 237 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $72.75
  • 9780745660240
  • Paperback $26.00
  • 9780745660257
  • Open eBook $21.00
  • 9780745665207
Table of Contents

Listening overlooked
Chapter 1 Listening in and listening out
Chapter 2 The modernisation of listening

Listening in the age of spectacle
Chapter 3 Listening in good faith: recording, representation and the real
Chapter 4 Listening amid the noise of modernity
Chapter 5 Listening live: the politics and experience of the radiogenic

Ways of listening
Chapter 6 The privatisation of the listening public
Chapter 7 The politics and practices of collective listening

Listening in the public sphere
Chapter 8 The public sphere as auditorium
Chapter 9 Media and the ethics of listening
About the Author
Kate Lacey is senior lecturer in media and cultural studies at the University of Sussex.
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"This book belongs on the small shelf we reserve for those especially evocative studies that can transform our understandings of what seem like familiar processes".
Gary Woodward, Journal of Mass Communication and Society.

"Lacey has created a foundation from which scholars of communication (be it mediated, political, or rhetorical) can proceed to take listening seriously [and] opened an important clearing into new questions and ideas about mediated communication". 
Lisbeth Lipari, Political Communication.

"The book is particularly welcome in helping to erode the relentless presentism of ‘new’ media studies, and to open up the necessary historical dimension we need in order to counteract it. Lacey does more than open up this dimension. Her book extends and enriches our understanding of what it involves". 
Michael Pickering, European Journal of Communication.

"Lacey provides a deep historical, theoretical and material understanding of listening […] The book deserves a broad readership for the accessible manner in which it handles a range of sophisticated ideas. It is a historical survey of listening in the age of mass media, and a philosophical reflection on the nature of our relationship with sound, its mediation and theorization and indeed the political nature of this dynamic." 
Paul Long, Discourse and Society

"Listening Publics...raises many thought provoking questions, and presents ideas and theories that the communication field might do well to study more." 
Peter Kreten, Journal of Broadcast and Electronic Media

"A collection of thoughtful, interesting and finely nuanced analyses of listening practices in the media age."

"Kate Lacey's timely and thoughtful history of listening, a topic so long submerged within accounts of mdoern broadcasting, offers a welcome challenge to existing theories of the public sphere. Her account of our practices of listening *out* is an important new reference-point for an age of heightened sensory complexity."
Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths, University of London

"Kate Lacey is a leading historian of radio who has now turned her attention to listening. A long-neglected aspect of the experience of broadcasting is brought to life in this engaging, thoughtful study of listening as a communicative right and responsibility. An invaluable addition to our understanding of how broadcasting works for its audiences."
Paddy Scannell, University of Michigan

"At once subtle and stunning, Kate Lacey's exploration of the history and concept of listening as a distinct cultural practice adds immeasurably to both the field of sound studies and our understanding of the role played by mediated communication in modern history. This careful delineation of aural practices shows how central the act of listening has been in the formation of social structures and ways of understanding the world around us."
Michele Hilmes, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"A sparkling synthesis of broadcast history and social theory that is full of original insights and nuggets from primary research, Listening Publics unfolds the neglected politics and ethics of the ear. A marvelously sane plea for listening as a key mode of participation in the public sphere."
John D. Peters, University of Iowa

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