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Evolutionary Perspectives on Rural Australia

  • Year: 2011
  • Author: MATTHEW TONTS, NEIL ARGENT, PAUL PLUMMER
  • Journal Name: Geographical Research
  • Journal Number: 50.3
  • Publisher: Wiley Online Library
  • ISBN: 1745-5871
  • Country: Australia

An enduring concern within Australian rural geography has been to understand the nature and implications of change. Much of the intellectual effort has been focused on interpreting how rural economies, populations, social institutions, cultures, and land uses have been transformed through processes operating across a range of spatial and temporal scales. This paper offers a critical appraisal of recent rural research in Australia and how this body of work has attempted to make sense of change. It argues that despite an ongoing focus on the nature of change, it is often reduced to a relatively simple historical narrative. We suggest that some of the emerging ideas in ‘evolutionary economic geography’ might offer an alternative means of conceptualising the trajectories of rural economies, institutions, and communities. The paper outlines the contours of evolutionary economic geography and the ways in which some of its key conceptual foundations might offer a means of understanding not only rural change, but also continuity.

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