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Mutinies reveal tipping points for collective unrest.

Studying naval mutinies of old are worth studying today, researchers point out, because they illuminate how modern-day ill-treatment toward subordinates can lead to violence. Also, mutinies have similarities to other types of rebellions, including worker strikes, riots, prison rebellions, and political uprisings.


The researchers studied British Royal Navy's ship logs and court martial records from 1740-1820 to learn what factors disrupted social order.

In addition to looking at such things as the demographics of the ship's crew, the age and size of the ship, and how long the ship had been at sea, the researchers looked at how well each ship was governed as well as the severity of punishments, the extent of reduced rations, sickness, and spoiled food.

In many cases, the researchers find that mutinies emerged because of unpaid and delinquent wages or excessive punishment. Unlike the well-known mutiny on the Bounty, in which mutineers took over the ship and set the captain adrift in a small boat with his supporters, most mutinies were more like worker strikes.

Now the researchers are trying to understand the precise conditions that tipped a restive crew toward rebellion and what inspired some seamen to risk the most by becoming mutiny ringleaders. The researchers are coding data from hundreds of ships' records from ships with mutinies and--as a control group--ships that did not have mutinies. Then the researchers will perform statistical analyses to isolate the factors that increased the odds of mutiny.

This item is excerpted from a May 13 article by Molly McElroy at < mutiniesreveal-tipping-points-for-collective- unrest>.

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Title Annotation:Noteworthy
Publication:The Advocate (American Mental Health Counselors Association)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2011
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