"Sobbing, Whining, Rumbling" - Listening to Automobiles as Social Practice

S. Krebs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies
EditorsT. Pinch, K. Bijsterveld
Place of PublicationOxford, New York
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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