Listening practices for urban sound space in Belfast

  • Elen Flügge

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research presents a nuanced account of inhabitants’ experiences of listening in everyday urban places. Using a methodology based on situated listening, the research turns a hearing perspective on Belfast City sites. As cities undergo various climate, health and social crises, sonic qualities of places too often remain a by-product of other planning and policy decisions. In Belfast, these issues are compounded by unique socio-political dynamics shaping its public realm. This project seeks greater consideration of sonic experience in urban planning. The thesis asks: To what extent are inhabitants of cities, such as Belfast, aware of the sonic domain and its impact on their everyday lives? In what manner is it possible to intervene in sonic awareness in urban spaces? These questions are addressed through qualitative research methods, drawing on sound art and ethnographic practices. Fieldwork, centering on in-situ ‘conversational soundwalks’ with Belfast inhabitants, triangulates listening, walking, interviews, recording as well as site-specific performances. Urban sound space is theorized as an interrelation of personal, situated and sonic nodes. Employing concepts from sonic, spatial and social disciplines, observations from fieldwork are framed though themes including: sonic awareness, filters and activators; thresholds and interfaces; misfits and mishearing; commons and agency, and empathy. Audio and visual recording form an accompanying document of the work.

Zip folder contains the media files (audio tracks and video recordings referenced in the thesis).

Thesis embargoed until 31 July 2023
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsAHRC Northern Bridge DTP
SupervisorSarah Lappin (Supervisor) & Simon Waters (Supervisor)


  • Sound studies
  • urbanism
  • soundwalk
  • sound art
  • sonic arts
  • ethnography
  • audio recording
  • Belfast

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