Stethoscapes: Sound and listening in the sensory economy of a London Hospital.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Politics and International Studies

Abstract

This research explores the importance of sound in the context of a London Hospital cardiology unit. It presents a detailed analysis of the acoustic dynamics of day-to-day life in that environment, but also examines the role which sound plays in diagnosis through auscultation (listening with the stethoscope) and cardiac ultrasound or echocardiography. Sound is shown to be integral to the construction and imagination of the body, being strongly implicated in the processes through which clinical diagnosis is performed. The research also draws on illness narratives in detailing the impact which acoustic events, particularly those created during the application of diagnostic technologies, can have on a patient's individual ‘illness experience’. It builds on a growing interest in the senses and sensory experience within the social sciences, and reflects a developing enthusiasm for auditory culture studies which provide critical insights into the deep-seated visual bias through which the social sciences have traditionally constructed and analysed culture. The research galvanizes sound and sensory economy as an important issue in understanding the lived dynamics of public and private space, commenting on how people seek to create, control or resist the particular sounds which they encounter within institutional contexts.

 
Title Sounding Bodies - museum display for Musuem of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge 
Description Section of an exhibition explaining the role of stethoscopic listening in medical practice. Also allowed participants to attempt to listen to heart murmurs themselves. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2009 
Impact Over 70000 visitors 
URL http://maa.cam.ac.uk/assemblingbodies/
 
Description This grant allowed me to consolidate my PhD research (also ESRC funded) and to develop publications from that research. That research explored the use of listening and sonic skills by patients, nurses and doctors on a cardiothoracic ward at St Thomas' Hospital in London. It examined the manner in which patients' experiences of ward soundscapes affect their overall experience of hospitalisation, looked at the role of listening in nurses management of patients on wards, and investigated doctors' use of listening in diagnostic work, particularly in stethoscopic listening.
Exploitation Route My published research is used widely and informs such fields as: hospital design, medical and nursing student training, academic practice in numerous fields (anthropology, sociology, history, geography, literature studies, science and technology studies, musicology) including undergraduate and postgraduate student education in these fields. My work has also informed the work of numerous sonic arts practitioners.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
 
Description My findings (consolidated and developed during the course of this ESRC award) have raised awareness of the ways in which sound environments affect those who are exposed to them. The findings have also underlined the importance of sonic knowledge and skill, particularly in the medical context. One aspect of the research has been to point to the difficulties involved in the transmission of sonic skills, while identifying creative solutions to some of these problems. At the same time my findings point to the symbolic as well as the practical significance of medical listening techniques (and particularly stethoscopic listening) in modern medical work, assessing the manner in which patients might be affected by particular types of medical listening practice. As well as informing research and teaching across a wide range of academic fields (specified above), my findings have been incorporated into museum displays and informed practice in sonic art.
First Year Of Impact 2007
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural
 
Description Anecdotal accounts of use in medical student training (from persons involved in the research who are quaified doctors)
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Increased medical students and practitioner sensitivity to impacts of ward noise and medical equipment sounds on hospital patients.
 
Description Research used as numerous undergraduate and postgraduate courses on sound studies and/or the anthropology of sound
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Increases awareness of the impact of sound on human behaviour and the wider environment.
 
Description 'Broadcasting the Body: the private made public in a London Hospital', Department of Sociology and Philosophy, University of Exeter. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Subsequent invitation to apply for job
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description 'Broadcasting the body, the public made private in a London hospital', Music, Sound and Reconfiguration of Public and Private Space, University of Cambridge. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Conference (which I co-organised) led to the publication of a major edited volume in which I published a chapter.

The publication of a major edited volume in which I published a chapter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/70/
 
Description 'Ear-led anthropology', Beyond Text? Image:Voice:Sound:Object Synaesthetic and Sensory Practices in Anthropology Conference, University of Manchester. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Talk at conference led to several subsequent publications
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description 'Learning to listen: stethoscopes as instruments of invention in a London Hospital', Transmission of Knowledge Series, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Sparked questions and discussion afterwards. Also led to invitation to submit an article to the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute which was subsequently published.

Journal special issue publication
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2010
URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2010.01609.x/abstract
 
Description 'Noisy Hearts: Auto-auscultation and Sound in Illness Experience', Experiencing Mutuality and Diversity, European Association of Social Anthropologists Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Invited to submit article to journal
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description 'Research in Sound', Between Ethno-methodology and Cyborg Sociology, Egensis (ESRC-Centre for Genomics in Society), University of Exeter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

I think the activity helped to make sound and sound studies more central to the university's research agenda
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description 'Stethoscapes: Listening to the Body in a London Hospital', Anthropology Department, Stanford University. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Extended research network
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description 'Stethoscapes: the ethnographic ear and listening to anthropological knowledge', ASA, ASAANZ and AAS Conference, University of Auckland, New Zealand. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talks sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Invitation to apply for job
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description 06.05.2007 - 'Stethoscapes: a hospital acoustemology', Seminar on Sound, University of Oslo. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk was designed to carry out conceptual groundwork for a study in Norway

Ideas carried forward into research planning phase.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description Body as soundscape, sound as bodyscape 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Sparked questions and discussion afterwards

My work was brought into the syllabus for a Sound and Anthropology module run by Professor Don Brenneis
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Broadcasting the Body: Noise and Knowledge in a London Hospital. Noise-gerausch-bruit: medien und kultur unstructurieter laute. Friedrich-Alexande 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk was part of a conference which was itself preparation for compilation of an edited volume.

Invitation to submit to edited volume.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Broadcasting the Body: the private made public in hospital soundscapes. Launch conference for Music, Sound and the Transformation of Public and Private Space. University of Oxford. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Drew awareness to book chapter among influential audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Listening to the Corporeal Voice - Studium Generale Reitveld Academie, Amsterdam 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Several students expressed interest in incorporating the research into their own arts practice
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://voicecreatureoftransition.rietveldacademie.nl/
 
Description Music, Sound and Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact This was a series of four two-hour lectures delivered to third year undergraduates from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge. This took place during the post doctoral research fellowship itself.

Numerous inquires about sound studies and the possibilities for studying it at postgraduate level or working in that research area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description On auditory culture. Intermedia Research Group Seminar, University of Cambridge 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Talks sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Contributed to research of postgraduate students at University of Cambridge leading to numerous citations in subsequent articles
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/22842
 
Description Presentation for 'L'orecchio e la cura: l'ospedale come ambiente ed esperienza sonora' or 'Ear and Care: the hospital as auditory environment and experience'). University of Turin. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards, but several audience members were hospital practitioners or people with a direct role in shaping hospital policy and practice.

People involved said they would use my work in informing their own research on hospitals and care centres.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2013
 
Description Stethoscapes : 'ear-led' anthropology in a London hospital. Performance, Senses, Emotions seminar series. Queens University Belfast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Several people requested further research details and asked for publication details for integration into their own research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description Stethoscapes : listening to the body in a London Hospital, departmental seminar, anthropology department, University of California, Santa Cruz 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Seminar to the anthropology department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The seminar and discussion can be downloaded as a podcast at - http://anthro.ucsc.edu/news_and_events/media/Rice_10_20_08.mp3

Several colleagues requested further research details for integration into their own research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL http://anthro.ucsc.edu/news_and_events/media/Rice_10_20_08.mp3
 
Description The doctor 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Performance of a short story based on my ethnographic fieldwork. The presentation included a short explanation of how fiction writing may be used to introduce academic ideas.

Many inquiries about my research from members of the public
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description The resounding body, invited lecture at FRISE art collective, Hamburg 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Numerous questions asked, identified and made contact with important colleagues in research area
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2013
URL http://www.vamh.de/index.php?gig=2200