Sound Acts: Elocution, Somatic Work, and the Performance of Sonic Alignment

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Drawing on reflection, nonparticipant and participant observation, and introspection this article examines the performative dimensions of sound, arguing that sounds of both the nonsemioticized and semioticized variety function as acts, not unlike speech acts. Through a layered text, the article offers analytical reflections and evocative writing focused on the exploration of acoustic environments such as movie theatres, airplanes, street music performances, residential neighborhoods, and more. An important material property of sound acts, elocution, is identified, conceptualized, and examined. Elocutionary sound acts are also examined as social dramas, insofar as they constitute a crisis-ensuing breach of what the authors refer to as the somatic order. The maintenance of, or alignment on, the rules prevalent within a defined somatic order is also examined and discussed. As a whole, the sensuous performative dynamics that sound acts and somatic alignment entail can be referred to as instances of somatic work.


Sociology and Corrections

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Journal of Contemporary Ethnography