Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Prisoner resistance refers to the tactics, strategies, and practices prisoners employ to contest the conditions and/or implications of incarceration. Premised on a Foucaultian belief that power is not a possession but rather a relational and negotiated dynamic, resistance studies analyze how prisoners, in spite of being confined, oppressed, and denied choices, nonetheless assert agency as they struggle to further their interests. Examination of prisoner resistance reveals a wide range of innovative tactics that can be classified along the axis of individual/collective, passive/violent, and everyday/exceptional. The most well-known strategy of collective resistance is the riot. Though often triggered by a relatively minor incident, disturbances such as the infamous 1980 New Mexico State Penitentiary riot, in which 33 prisoners perished, often erupt into violence. In some extreme cases, prisoners attempt to assume control of the institution to publicize conditions and negotiate concessions. Although riots certainly draw public attention to prison conditions, this ...