Juveniles as Human Capital: Re-evaluating the Economic Value of Juvenile Male Convict Labour

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The application of "Human Capital" theory by Nicholas and others in the late 1980s to reframe our understanding of convictism was a watershed moment in colonial historical analysis. This was because it shifted debate away from the moral character of the convicts and reconceptualised them as a valuable labour commodity that was to be understood in the context of much broader patterns of forced labour migration. Drawing on pre-transportation records and evidence relating to two institutions for transported juvenile convicts the Carters' Barracks (Sydney) and Point Puer (Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land), this article examines the economic conceptualisation of juvenile male convict labour and critiques whether the same "Human Capital" theory can be applied to the juvenile convicts who were sent to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. The study posits that this conceptual approach frames the juvenile transportation phenomenon too narrowly temporally, socially and economically.

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... Given the few female juveniles transported, it is unsurprising they have been overlooked but this research has now uncovered and focused on their young lives. Thanks to the works of Nunn (2015Nunn ( , 2017, Slee (2003) and Jackman (2001Jackman ( , 2009 there has been an increasing focus on male juvenile convicts -but this focus has been largely from an institutional perspective or their lives within those institutions. As Nunn pointed out, it is difficult to form an adequate picture of the male juvenile lives beyond the institution (2017, p. 171). ...
Convicts were transported from Britain to Van Diemen’s Land from 1803 until 1853. Approximately 10 000–13 000 juveniles were among the 148 000 convicts transported. This article has traced the lives of female and male juvenile convicts transported, who were sentenced at the Old Bailey (the Central Criminal Court in London), and voyaged to Van Diemen’s Land. By exploring individual lives, and contextualising their experiences, it is possible to go beyond the circumstances of offending–through to their punishment period, to their lives upon release. This article will focus on one aspect of juvenile convict lives post-transportation–their familial life. The method of nominal record-linkage has been used across a variety of criminal and non-criminal records (including civil records and newspapers) in order to build up a picture of these young offenders. Going beyond the institution and focusing directly on female and male juveniles is important in understanding the lives of this unique group. From the behaviour of the juvenile convicts themselves, to the decisions of the administrators and the conditions of the penal colony into which they were thrust; were these female and male juvenile convicts able to form ‘settled’ colonial lives and which factors inhibited or facilitated this process?
L'article analyse la dimension de l'integration sociale des enfants de prisonniers chez les premiers colons installes en Nouvelles Galles du Sud en Australie en s'interessant plus particulierement au travail de ces enfants. Le peu d'informations disponibles rendent difficiles les recherches a ce sujet, meme si les renseignements collectes par les historiens tendent a prouver le statut penible des enfants de prisonniers au XVIIIe siecle et leur role sur le marche du travail.
The present paper examines the evolution of the management of the labour process within the male convict gang system. The organisation of convicts into discrete and enduring collective work units was a vital and productive part of the colonial economy and of the convict labour process generally. In providing a detailed account of the history of management's adoption of labour process structures and strategies the present paper shows that some of these were determined by changing management objectives while others were the result of covert and/or overt convict resistance. The paper offers evidence of the interaction between the management and the convict, and argues that the origins of Australian industrial relations are to be found amongst our convict workers rather than with the arrival of free labour.