8: The Art of Listening: Prof Les Back

Season 3, Episode 8,   Dec 20, 2021, 12:39 PM

As a coach one of the central tools you have is to listen. Some call this active listening. Listening is not easy and something one has to practice because fundamentally you are listening to not just what is being said and what is not being said. Listening is therefore a holistic endeavour that is more an art than a technique. As an anthropologist I am also taught to listen to silence. Or as the anthropologist and FT journalist, Gillian Tett describes – listening to social silence. But why is the ability to listen so important to understanding everyday culture and society? 

To help me unpack this I spoke to Professor Les Back who is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths University in London. Les has written a fascinating book called the Art of Listening and he shows how by adopting a sociological mindset one can uncover many rich components of culture through listening. 

This was my first in person podcast recording for nearly 2 years and I met Les at Goldsmiths University. What become clear as a talked was that listening is not static and two way. There are multi-components to it. He also introduced me to the concept of sociological walking. Here we spent time listening to the city of London both from above and on street level. 

So fascinating was the discussion, that I decided to divide two episodes – one on listening and one of sociological walking.  

Show Notes:


Selected Writings:
Art of Listening
Academic Diary
The Changing Face of Football: racism, identity and multiculture in the English game

JC & Associates
Decoding Culture Newsletter
Training Programme
TEDx Talk