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4 - Why Seamen Rebelled

The Causes of Mutiny

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2020

Steven Pfaff
Affiliation:
University of Washington
Michael Hechter
Affiliation:
Arizona State University
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Summary

To explain the occurrence of this form of high-risk collective action, this chapter shows that shipboard grievances were the principal cause of mutiny. However, not all grievances are equal in this respect. We distinguish between structural grievances that flow from incumbency in a subordinate social position and incidental grievances that incumbents have no expectation of suffering. Based on a case-control analysis of incidents of mutiny compared with controls drawn from a unique database of Royal Navy voyages from 1740 to 1820, in addition to a wealth of qualitative evidence, we find that mutiny was most likely to occur when structural grievances were combined with incidental ones.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Genesis of Rebellion
Governance, Grievance, and Mutiny in the Age of Sail
, pp. 97 - 135
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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