Professor Neil Argent

Professor - Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education; School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Neil Argent

Phone: +61 2 6773 2803



BA(Hons), PhD (Adel)

Teaching Areas

GEPL112 Australia: Where in the world?
GEPL322 Cradle to Grave – Introductory Population Geography
GEPL321/521 Population, health and environment
GEPL345/545 Regional Development: Problems and Policies

Research Interests

Professor Argent's research interests centre on understanding the factors and processes that make robust and sustainable rural communities. He is particularly keen on investigating the role of migration – especially city to rural migration and youth out-migration from rural areas – in changing the social and demographic make-up of rural communities. He also has a strong interest in social theory, especially as it relates to our understandings of space and place, and the key roles each plays within our lives. All of these research interests are reflected in his list of grants and publications (below). In summary, he would say that he is a geographer because of his fascination with understanding why standards of living and ways of life vary from place to place. For him it is critical to know these things before we can intervene to tackle problems like poverty and deleterious environmental change.

Grants Awarded

2015-2018, Australian Research Council (Discovery-Project Grant) DP150104580, Prof. Neil Argent, Prof. Matthew Tonts and Prof. Paul Plummer, 'Evolutionary dynamics and the transformation of rural Australia'.

2009-2010, Australian Research Council (Discovery-Project Grant), DP0985831, Assoc. Prof. Neil Argent, Dr Fran Rolley, Prof. Jim Walmsley and Dr Rae Dufty, 'Home and Away? Defining and conceptualising rural youth migration in Australia', 2 years, $120 000.

2007- 2010, Australian Research Council (Discovery-Project Grant), Dr Neil Argent, Prof. Roy Jones, Prof. John Holmes and Dr Matthew Tonts, 'The Amenity Principle: The causes, incidence and land use planning implications of amenity-led rural settlement in Australia,' 4 years, $187 000.

2007 – 2008, Australian Research Council (Discovery-Project Grant), Prof. John Martin, Dr Bill Pritchard, Dr Phil McManus, Assoc. Prof. Scott Baum, Prof. Jim Walmsley, Assoc. Prof. Tony Sorensen, Assoc. Prof. Lisa Bourke and Dr Neil Argent, 'Australia's Rural Heartlands: Declining economic fortune or dynamic regional adjustment?', 2 years, $170 000.

2004 -2006, Australian Research Council (Discovery-Project Grant), Dr Neil Argent, 'Perceived Density, Social Interaction and Morale in Australian Rural Communities', 3 years, $150 000.

Research Supervision Experience

Rural population dynamics; especially rural migration trends and processes; Social and economic change in rural communities; Regional development.

Recent Students

Stuart Robertson (PhD) Creating 'enduring community value' for mining-dependent regions in Australia

Paul McFarland (PhD) Managing the peri-urban fringe

Darrell Fisher (MA) The tourism potential of dairy heritage in the Clarence Valley of New South Wales

Amanda Davies (PhD) Rural Leadership in Australia


Roche, M. and N. Argent 2015 The fall and rise of agricultural productivism? An Antipodean viewpoint, Progress in Human Geography 39 (5), 621-635.

Argent, N. and T. Measham 2014 New rural economies: introduction to the special themed issue, Journal of Rural Studies 36, 328-329.

Tonts, M., P. Plummer and N. Argent 2014 Path dependence, resilience and the evolution of new rural economies:  Perspectives from rural Western Australia, Journal of Rural Studies 36, 362-375.

Logue, D., N. Argent and A. Warren 2015 Wipeout? The Gold Coast and Tweed surfboard manufacturing cluster, its spatial evolution and current challenges, Local Economy, in press.

Argent, N. 2014 The 'N' word: Australian particularism, taxonomies of development and epistemology, Dialogues in Human Geography 4 (2), 147-149.

Argent, N., M. Tonts, and A. Stockdale 2014 Rural Migration, Agrarian Change, and Institutional Dynamics: Perspectives from the Majority World, Population, Space and Place DOI:10.1002/psp.1827.

Dufty-Jones, R., N. Argent, D. Walmsley and F. Rolley 2014 'The role of gender in the migration practices and aspirations of Australian rural youth' in J. Connell and R. Dufty-Jones (eds.) Rural Change in Australia, Ashgate Publishing, Farnham, 25-41.

Argent, N. and M. Tonts, 2014 A multicultural and multifunctional countryside? International labour migration and Australia's productivist heartlands, Population, Space and Place, DOI: 10.1002/psp.1812.

Argent, N., M. Tonts and A. Stockdale 2014 Rural migration, agrarian change, and institutional dynamics: Perspectives from the majority world, Population, Space and Place, DOI: 10.1002/psp.1827.

Argent, N., M. Tonts, R. Jones and J. Holmes 2014 'The amenity principle, internal migration, and rural development' in Australia, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, ID: 873320, DOI: 10.1080.00045608.2013.873320

Argent, N., M. Tonts, R. Jones and J. Holmes 2013 A creativity-led rural renaissance? Amenity-led migration, the creative turn and the uneven development of rural Australia, Applied Geography 44, 88-98.

Argent, N. 2013 Reinterpreting core and periphery in Australia's mineral and energy resources boom: an Innisian perspective on the Pilbara, Australian Geographer 44, 323-340.

Tonts, M., N. Argent and P. Plummer 2012 Evolutionary perspectives on rural geography in Australia, Geographical Research 50, 291-303.

Smailes, P., T. Griffin and N. Argent 2012 The future of Australian rural communities: how powerful are the forces of change, South Australian Geographical Journal 111, 18-42.

Griffin, T., P. Smailes and N. Argent 2012 Rural-Urban Symbiosis: exploring the influence of density, dispersal, remoteness and town size in SE Australia, Growth and Change 43, 198-227.

Pritchard, W., N. Argent, S. Baum, L. Bourke, J. Martin, P. McManus, A. Sorensen and D. Walmsley 2012 Local-if-possible: How the spatial networking of economic relations amongst farm enterprises aids small town survival in rural Australia, Regional Studies 46, 539-557.

McGuirk, P. and N. Argent 2011 Population growth and change: Implications for Australia's cities and regions, Geographical Research 49, 317-335.

Argent, N. 2011 Trouble in paradise?: Governing Australia's multifunctional landscapes, Australian Geographer 42, 183-205.

Argent, N. 2011 What's new about rural governance?: Australian perspectives and introduction to the special theme, Australian Geographer 42, 95-103.

Argent, N. 2011 'Australian agriculture in the global economic mosaic' in M. Tonts and M.A.B. Siddique (eds.) Globalisation, Agriculture and Development: Perspectives from the Asia-Pacific. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, Cheltenham, UK, 7-28.

Argent, N., M. Tonts, R. Jones and J. Holmes 2011 'Amenity-led migration in rural Australia: A new driver of local demographic and environmental change?' in G. Luck, R. Black and D. Race (eds.), Demographic Change in Rural Landscapes: What Does it Mean for Society and the Environment?, Springer, Dordrecht, 23-44.

Argent, N. 2011 'Regions and communities dividing? Australian rural development in a multifunctional context' in Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Rural Change, R. Winchell, D. Ramsey, R. Koster and G. Robinson (eds.), Rural Development Institute, Brandon University, Brandon, 330-347.

Argent, N., D. Walmsley and A. Sorensen 2010 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something …..? Rediscovering the comparative advantage of the 'new' pastoral economies of northern New South Wales, Australia' in G. Halseth, S. Markey and W. Reimer (eds.), The Next Rural Economies: Constructing Rural Place in Global Economies,  CABI Publishing, Wallingford, 17-31.

Argent, N. 2009 'Putting social capital in context: A critical examination of social capital and the sustainability of Australian rural communities' in L.M. Frutos, E. Climent, E. Ruiz, A. Bicalho and L. Laurens (eds.), New Ruralities and the Sustainable Use of Territory: Proceedings of the 16th Colloquium of the Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems of the International Geographical Union (IGU), Prensas Unversitarias de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, 279-297.

Walmsley, D. and N. Argent, 2009 From the outside looking in and the inside looking out: Whatever happened to 'behavioural geography'?, Geographical Research 47, 192-203.

Argent, N. 2009 Social nature in International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography, Thrift, N. and R. Kitchin (eds.), Elsevier, London, 303-308.

Argent, N. 2008 Perceived density, social interaction and morale in New South Wales rural communities, Journal of Rural Studies 24, 245-261.

Argent, N., F. Rolley and D. Walmsley 2008 The sponge city hypothesis: Does it hold water?, Australian Geographer 39, 109-129.

Argent, N. and D. Walmsley 2008 Rural youth migration trends in Australia: An overview of recent trends and two inland case studies, Geographical Research 46, 139-152.

Gibson, C. and N. Argent 2008 Getting on, getting up and getting out? Broadening perspectives on rural youth migration, Geographical Research 46, 135-138.

Argent, N., F. Rolley and A. Sorensen 2007 The economic geography of the Gwydir and Macquarie River catchment towns: Current features, future prospects and challenges, Division of Geography and Planning, University of New England, Armidale, 50.

Argent, N. and F. Rolley 2007 The geography of rural homelessness in Australia: Towards a new research agenda, Parity 20, 31-32.

Argent, N., P. Smailes and T. Griffin 2007 The Amenity Complex: Towards a framework for analysing and predicting the emergence of a multifunctional countryside in Australia, Geographical Research 45, 217-232.

Argent, N. 2006 Rural population trends and their implications for planning: the cases of inland Queensland and New South Wales, Queensland Planner 46, 20-22.

Argent, N. and F. Rolley 2006 'Inhabiting the margins: A geography of rural homelessness' in P. Cloke and P. Milbourne (eds.), Australia in International Perspectives on Rural Homelessness,  Routledge, London, 208-230.

Argent, N., P. Smailes and T. Griffin 2005 Tracing the Density Impulse: population density as a constitutive influence in Australia contemporary population and settlement geography, Population and Environment 27, 151-190.

O'Neill, P. and N. Argent 2005 Neoliberalism in antipodean spaces and times: An introduction to the special theme issue, Australian Geographical Studies 43, 2-8.

Argent, N. 2005 The neoliberal seduction: Governing-at-a-distance, community development and the battle over regional financial provision in Australia, Australian Geographical Studies 43, 29-39.

Smailes, P., T. Griffin and N. Argent 2005 'The changing social framework' in Sustainability and Change in Rural Australia, Cocklin, C. and J. Dibden (eds.), UNSW Press, Sydney, 80-102.


  • Member of the Institute of Australian Geographers Inc.
  • Member of the Institute of Australian Geographers Inc. Rural Studies Group
  • Member of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia Inc.
  • Member of the Geographical Society of New South Wales Inc.
  • Member of the Agri-Food Research Network
  • Committee Member, Regional Development Australia-Northern Inland