Lecture series

The Art of Listening

the Art of Listening webinar - Thursday 8 March 2018, 5.30pm. Speaker: Professor Les Back, Director of the Centre of Urban and Community Research;  Location: University of West London, St Mary’s Road, Ealing ​

About the lecture

Our culture is one that speaks rather than listens. From reality TV to political rallies there is a clamour to be heard, to narrate and to receive attention. It reduces reality to spectacular revelation and voyeurism. In the age of social media and mobile technologies our attention to the world and each other is increasingly distracted.  

In this talk, Les Back argued that this way of life is having severe and damaging consequences in a world that suffers not from doubt but from fast certainties. 

He addressed the question of:

  • how we can listen more carefully? 
  • how can this attentiveness be connected with an imaginative understanding of the nature of our world and our relation to others? 
  • how can we listen for those things that people feel unable to say?  

Through a series of examples drawn from his thirty year career, he argued that - at its best - sociology is a listener’s art, able to record 'life passed in living' and listen to complex experiences with humility and ethical care, providing a resource to understand the contemporary world while pointing to the possibility of a different kind of future.