The role of fluctuating soundscapes in shaping the emotional geographies of individuals living with Ménière’s disease
Social and Cultural Geography
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
The potential for everyday soundscapes to evoke diverse emotions amongst different cultural and acoustic communities is increasingly recognised within the literature. However, few studies have examined how these soundscapes can shift with the onset and progression of specific hearing impairments. This paper explores such shifts, drawing on a series of in-depth narrative interviews conducted in the south west of England with individuals diagnosed with Ménière’s disease; a long-term progressive vestibular disorder characterised by episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, sensorineural hearing loss and, for some people, hyperacusis (high sensitivity to sudden irregular sounds). Located in the subfield of ‘emotional geographies’, the paper discusses how participants were forced to connect with and attune to previously unremarkable aspects of their everyday soundscapes in ways that were both emotionally and socially challenging. Four aspects of participants’ embodied, emotional soundscapes are critically explored: hearing life in ‘2D’; corporeal and environmental ‘sonic intruders’; corporeal sound ‘symbols’; and seeking to regain a semblance of control through soundscape (re)-negotiations. Such insights are important to inform conscious acoustic design efforts that respect the ‘ears and voice’ of people living with varying levels of auditory sensitivity, rather than urban and community planning policies that continue to prioritise vision and transit.
This work was supported by the Ménière’s Society with further follow-on funding provided by PenCLAHRC (no grant numbers given).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Published online: 01 September 2016