Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

First Monday








This paper reviews penal history in order to consider forms of resistance to mass surveillance. Because experiences of surveillance are endemic to incarcerated life, identifying tactics of protest among these populations provides valuable insights for potential forms of counter-conduct in other circumstances of ubiquitous monitoring. We introduce the term incodification as a means of describing conditions of continuous surveillance ingrained into infrastructures of everyday life, even as these conditions give rise to tactics of resistance. We focus on three forms of protest: hunger strikes, alternate communication networks and viral dance videos, drawing on Foucault’s theory of askesis in order to develop our understanding of incodification. Our objective in introducing this term, and with our analysis as a whole, is to provoke and promote theoretical and activist projects that both address and subvert infrastructures of incodification.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Incoded counter-conduct: What the incarcerated can teach us about resisting mass surveillance” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Incoded counter-conduct: What the incarcerated can teach us about resisting mass surveillance by Jessa Lingel and Aram Sinnreich. First Monday, Volume 21, Number 5 - 2 May 2016 doi:


surveillance, technological activism, prisons, social justice

Included in

Communication Commons



Date Posted: 09 July 2018

This document has been peer reviewed.