The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 9, No 2 (2021)

Laughter in the context of urban soundscapes

Daria Vasileva


Fifty people compiled diaries in which they described the sounds of their daily life in cities around the world. Of the 940 hours of observation there were 200 entries that referred to sounds of laughter, both live and recorded. The participants of the research always identified laughter sounds explicitly, unlike other urban sounds. The sound of laughter has a powerful cultural-symbolic superstructure. Learning how we use laughter, what we hear and how we react when someone laughs can help us to understand the key processes taking place in the urban space today. Laughter can at once attract and repel, signal danger and relieve social tension. It can lead equally to social agents’ inclusion and exclusion in the situation of interaction, and can largely determine the form and extent of their inclusion. A citizen’s interpretation of the sound of laughter depends directly on the media technologies which predominate in the urban environment and channel their cultural experience and sonic imagination.



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