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Title: A listener-centered approach to soundscape analysis
Author: Foale, K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 4732
Awarding Body: University of Salford
Current Institution: University of Salford
Date of Award: 2014
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How do people listen to soundscapes in the built environment? Current soundscape research within urban planning disciplines tends to focus on measuring outdoor spaces in the built environment by interviewing the people within. This thesis, by contrast, followed individual listeners, using a qualitative, Grounded Theory methodology, examining listening preferences and habits across multiple environments. This approach gave a broad range of reactions to different soundscapes, from homes to workplaces to bars, clubs, and places of worship. This thesis reviews various soundscape epistemologies, methodologies, and methods, and argues that we need a stronger theoretical understanding of all these elements. It questions what is being measured, and how people are measuring it. The thesis suggests some ways qualitative and quantitative research can work together more effectively, and move soundscapes from the current multidiciplinary research landscape to a truly interdiciplinary one. In defining the soundscape as ‘the listener's perception of their auditory surroundings’, I shift the focus from measuring people's evaluation of spaces, to evaluating people themselves. This leads to a radically new empirical approach and theoretical description of the soundscape, using social science methods to build thick description of listening habits. Twenty people were given audio recorders and log books, and asked to record their day-to-day lives for two weeks. They were then interviewed about their experiences. The main finding was that soundscapes are not noticed most of the time, with participants seeming to have a ‘noticing threshold’: affected by factors such as control, expectation, and activity. Soundscapes which were noticed fell into one of four categories: positive--loud, positive--quiet, negative--loud or negative--quiet, with different judgement criteria for each. Participants were also highly adept at using coping mechanisms, such as recorded music and TV, to counteract undesirable sound environments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Built and Human Environment ; Memory, Text and Place