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Abstract

This paper examines current issues at the intersection of the Sociology of Technology and the interdisciplinary field of Sound Studies. It begins with an overview of major social constructionist, interpretive semiotic, and actor–network theoretical sociological approaches to technology as developed within the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). Considering the predominance of narrative visual metaphors in these approaches' treatment of socio-technical perception, it is argued that the “turn to sound” in social studies of technology, rather than simply furnishing established analytic approaches with a fresh set of empirical cases (i.e. “sound technologies”), presents an opportunity to better sensitize STS approaches to the contingent socio-technical shaping and distribution of embodied perceptual modalities in general. A critical review of recent social and historical studies of sound and technology, attending especially to debates surrounding the theoretical shift from acoustemological or soundscape-based to signal-oriented “transductive” approaches, suggests the importance for future STS and Sound Studies work of addressing how shared modes of sensory perception are produced within particular socio-technical frames.