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Soldiers as Workers$
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Nick Mansfield

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781781382783

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781382783.001.0001

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Class Conflict in the Army

Class Conflict in the Army

(p.155) 4 Class Conflict in the Army
Soldiers as Workers

Nick Mansfield

Liverpool University Press

This argues that most rank and file soldiers retained pre-enlistment employment attitudes and that a commonly held working class ‘contract culture’ was shared by both skilled tradesmen and former labourers. Despite harsh environments and strict discipline, the customary standards and rights of this contract culture were widely maintained through all sorts of low level class conflict. Most of this resistance was necessarily passive, consisting of back-chats, heavy drinking, desertion, deliberate crime, looting, and feigned illness. But on occasion it could develop into spectacular mass-mobilised strikes and mutinies or lapse into the personal tragedies of assassination of officers, service with the enemy, self harm or even suicide.

Keywords:   Contract culture, Passive resistance, Strikes and mutinies, Desertion, Self harm and suicide

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