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Mic Check: Occupy Wall Street and the Space of Audition

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As used by Occupy Wall Street, the human microphone played a central role in the formation of an auditory space that was animated by the principles of direct democracy that guided the movement. However, the practice also allowed the occupiers to confront and subvert the monopoly on amplified public speech that the government of the City of New York had possessed for nearly eighty years. This paper presents a brief history and analysis of the city's regulation of sound devices, locating the human microphone in a larger struggle over the rights to public speech and assembly.

Keywords: Human Microphone; Noise Control; Occupy Wall Street; Public Address Systems; Public Speech

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 2, 2014

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