Organizing the sensory: Ear-work, panauralism and sonic agency on a forensic psychiatric unit
Reavey, P. (2019). Organizing the sensory: Ear-work, panauralism and sonic agency on a forensic psychiatric unit. Human Relations.
How are relations of care and security between hospital staff and patients organized through sound? This article argues that the shifting distinction between meaningful sound and noise is fundamental to the lived experience of immersion in organizational acoustic environment. Based around a qualitative study of listening practices and ‘ear work’ at a medium-secure forensic psychiatric hospital, using interview and photo-production methods, the article positions the organizing of the sensory as central to formal organization. Analysis of empirical material demonstrates how the refinement of key listening practices is critical to the ways in which staff and patients orient to the hospital setting. It also details how the design process for the unit has undermined the capacity to manage and control through sound, or ‘panauralism’, rendering it as a reversible and contested struggle to make sense of the acoustic environment, and describes the attempts by patients to create alternative acoustic spaces and exercise ‘sonic agency’. We contend that ‘acoustic organizational research’ offers an experience-near means of mapping organizational space and power relations and invites a renewed questioning of the role of the sensory as form of organizing in itself.
|Keywords||mental health, care, sonic, psychiatric, hospital|
|Publication process dates|
|Accepted||12 Aug 2019|
|Deposited||06 Sep 2019|
|Accepted author manuscript|
CC BY 4.0
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