“Sobbing, Whining, Rumbling”: Listening to Automobiles as Social Practice

Stefan Krebs

in The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195388947
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 “Sobbing, Whining, Rumbling”: Listening to Automobiles as Social Practice

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German motorists in the 1920s appeared to possess the necessary listening skills to diagnose malfunctions. They questioned the sonic expertise of their car mechanics. This article explores why drivers of the 1920s and their counterparts of the 1950s listened to their cars differently. It describes the relevant listening practices and explains how and why they differ. It focuses on technology's middle ground, the “ambiguous space between production and consumption” and explores the complex relationship between German auto mechanics and motorists during the interwar period and the first years after World War Two. It begins with exploring the listening techniques of motorists and mechanics in the 1920s. It also describes the repair crisis at the end of that decade and the new legislation concerning the auto mechanics trade in 1934. Following this, it focuses on the automotive technology of that time. Finally, it discusses the differentiation of the two listening practices.

Keywords: German motorists; listening; auto mechanics trade; automotive practices; sonic expertise

Article.  9705 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Sound Studies ; Music and Media

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