Cultures of Listening: Psychology, Resonance, Justice

Motzkau, Johanna F. and Lee, Nick M. (2022). Cultures of Listening: Psychology, Resonance, Justice. Review of General Psychology, 27(1) pp. 3–25.



Listening, as a general psychological capacity, is a key aspect of perception, communication and experience. However listening researchers frequently characterize it as a neglected, misunderstood and ill-defined phenomenon. This is a significant problem because questions of listening pervade social inequalities and injustices, as this paper demonstrates in the context of UK child protection practices.
Exploring concepts of listening within and beyond psychology, the paper illustrates how a lack of overall theorization can contribute to inequality and injustice within applied listening practices. To address this, the paper theorizes listening in the spirit of Whiteheadian process ontology, drawing on the work of Nancy and Bonnet. Based on this it develops the concept of ‘Cultures of Listening’ (CoL), which provides a tool for the critical analysis of troubled listening practices, indicating how they can be challenged and transformed.
Within CoL, listening is not a mere aspect of auditory perception or communication, but each instant of listening is considered as shaped by and expressing political, social and experiential circumstances, i.e. cultures. The paper demonstrates the theoretical, critical and applied value of CoL by offering a detailed analysis of the role of listening within troubled UK child protection practices.

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