Reading group with Kate Lacey – The Labour of Listening in Troubled Times

Date & Time:

24th March, 14:00


Online event; the link will be sent to those who register.


Kate Lacey introduces 'The Labour of Listening in Troubled Times', before opening the session to participants.

In this workshop, Kate Lacey will briefly introduce her essay, ‘The Labour of Listening in Troubled Times’, before opening the session to participants to ask questions, raise issues or suggest connections and future directions in relation to the idea of the labour of listening


This article explores some of the implications and limitations of framing political debates as a politics of voice and builds on the idea of “listening out” as a necessary technique of political action (Lacey 2013: 3-21). Political listening in this sense is about keeping channels of communication open, accepting ongoing difference and conflicts of interest. It is, therefore, a difficult, challenging and risk-laden labour in the best of times and all the more so in times of division and conflict (Bickford 1996; Hofman 2020). Meanwhile, listening in media studies has tended to conceive of listening, if not as entirely passive, then primarily as a kind of decoding or translation practice – a practice of response. This article is concerned with the labour of political listening in the mediated public sphere. It describes the productive power of listening to generate a space for “voice” and explores the labour involved in preparing the space, time, setting, mood, technologies, and techniques for listening and how that labour is variously valued and exchanged. And it builds on work that thinks about listening not exclusively in relation to sound, finding that sonic vocabulary and metaphors can help reframe notions of the public sphere and politics long shaped and distorted by a reliance on the visual registers of print culture and the spectacle.