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Sound-Politics in São Paulo$
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Leonardo Cardoso

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190660093

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190660093.001.0001

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Of Ears and Norms

Of Ears and Norms

(p.45) 2 Of Ears and Norms
Sound-Politics in São Paulo

Leonardo Cardoso

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on several attempts to mobilize sound-politics via a range of techniques, devices, and national and international standards. I consider how experts have managed to stabilize two central actors: ears and norms. In the early twentieth century, experts generated the “average normal ear,” which I call Ear 1.0, the first actor. The second actor is the sound level meter, the Ear 2.0, a black box responsible for emulating Ear 1.0 and conveying reliable quantified information. As other authors have already traced the fascinating history of the stabilization of Ears 1.0 and 2.0 in the early twentieth century, I simply summarize some of these debates. The second section focuses on the Brazilian Technical Standards Association (ABNT). In the 2010s, experts faced the daunting task of revising two technical standards for assessing environmental noise. As I show, drawing on participant observation, interviews, and minutes of meetings between 2011 and 2017, this task was difficult because these revisions involved the input of groups with different interests and different understandings of what a technical standard should do.

Keywords:   acoustics, Brazil, São Paulo, Latin America, history of science, standardization, metrology

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