From out of the margins: Understanding the (relative) resilience of staples dependent rural economies and communities in Australia

Authors: Neil Argent*, University of New England
Topics: Rural Geography, Economic Geography, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: staples theory, natural resource dependence, rural communities, evolutionary economic geography, Australia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Understanding the impacts of dramatic policy, market and environmental change on rural producers and the broader economic, social and cultural communities that they live in remains an important if somewhat neglected field of social scientific enquiry. The potential dangers and boons of natural resource and export market dependence for rural regions are encapsulated in the near-forgotten staples theory, while regions’ capacities to rebound from the almost inevitable shocks that attach to their established development patterns can arguably be apprehended via key concepts central to evolutionary economic geography (EEG). Combining insights from Innis’ staples theory and EEG into a single heuristic framework this presentation analyses the long-run social, economic and demographic trajectories of one Australian rural case study area - Kangaroo Island (South Australia) – through crisis and beyond. In particular, it explores the extent to which the Island has been able to re-define its economic and social path (and place) dependence and find some form of resilience to the major ‘shocks’ that frequently accompany natural resource dependence and reliance on export markets.

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