Profiles

Vaughan Higgins

UTAS Home Associate Professor Vaughan Higgins

Vaughan Higgins

Associate Head Research
Associate Professor of Sociology
School of Social Sciences

Room 236, Arts Building, Newnham Campus

+61 3 6324 4459 (phone)

vaughan.higgins@utas.edu.au

Vaughan Higgins is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences. His research encompasses the fields of sociology of agriculture and food, environmental sociology, economic sociology, and the sociology of science and technology. Informed by analytical approaches such as governmentality, actor network theory, and assemblage thinking, Vaughan’s work is aimed at understanding how agricultural policy and programmes are implemented on the ground, and the ways in which landholders respond to, negotiate or resist attempts to change their practices. Vaughan’s research has examined implementation and adoption issues across a range of regional and industry settings including the beef, grains, eggs and dairy sectors.

Biography

Vaughan joined the University of Tasmania in January 2018. He was previously an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Science at Charles Sturt University (2011-18) and a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Monash University (2000-2011).

Career summary

Qualifications

Degree Thesis title University Country Awarded
PhD Smoothing the Process of Change? A Genealogy of the Governance of Farm Viability in Australia (1967-1997) Central Queensland University Australia 09/2001
BA (Hons) Breaking Down the Divisions? Political Power, Graziers, and Changing Rural Local Government Representation in the Longreach Shire, Queensland Central Queensland University Australia 06/1997

Memberships

Professional practice

  • International Sociological Association

Administrative expertise

  • Associate Director of the Institute for Land, Water and Society (Charles Sturt University), 2012-2014
  • Head of the Sociology and Politics Discipline (Charles Sturt University), 2013-2017

Teaching

Social theory, sociology of health, sociology of agriculture and food, sociology of science and technology

Teaching expertise

Units taught at the University of Tasmania include:

  • HGA202 - Sociological Analysis of Modern Society
  • HGA259/359 – Crime and Deviance

Units taught at previous universities include:

  • Rural Sociology
  • Sociology of Health and Health Care
  • Advanced Social Theory
  • Science and Society
  • Interpretation and Meaning in Sociology
  • Global Sociology

Teaching responsibility

  • HGA202 Sociological Analysis of Modern Society
  • HGA259/359 Crime and Deviance

Research Appointments

Elected Oceania representative on the International Rural Sociology Association (2016-20)

View more on AssocProf Vaughan Higgins in WARP

Expertise

Vaughan’s research focuses primarily on the sociology of agriculture and food with an emphasis on how agri-food policy and programmes are implemented at an institutional and farm level. Encompassing issues ranging from biosecurity to soil management, Vaughan has extensive experience in government and industry-funded projects, examining implementation and adoption issues across a range of regional and industry settings.

Research Themes

Vaughan’s research aligns to two of the University’s research themes:

Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Vaughan has a strong track record of inter-disciplinary collaboration on research projects relevant to this theme. These include projects examining the challenges and enablers around improving implementation and adoption of agricultural biosecurity practices, and the use of market instruments for sustainable land management.

Creativity, Culture and Society

Vaughan’s research interests and publications around neoliberalisation, multi-stakeholder initiatives in agri-environmental governance, and the use of standards and standardising practices, are oriented towards understanding the different, and often subtle, ways in which social groups are governed in contemporary societies. In doing so, his work aligns closely with the emphasis of this theme on promoting resilient and thriving communities in an era marked by social, cultural and technological change.

Collaboration

Vaughan’s research and publishing collaboration is extensive, and includes researchers at the following national and international institutions:

Australia

  • The University of Queensland (School of Social Science)
  • Queensland University of Technology (School of Management)
  • Charles Sturt University (School of Animal and Veterinary Science)
  • University of Sydney (School of Veterinary Science)
  • James Cook University (Chancellery)
  • New South Wales Department of Primary Industries

United Kingdom

  • Cardiff University (School of Geography and Planning)
  • Imperial College (Centre for Environmental Policy)

New Zealand

  • Victoria University of Wellington (Chancellery)

Current projects

  • Investigating Drivers of Biosecurity Engagement and Approaches for Improving this Engagement among Egg Producers in Australia. Funded by Australian Eggs ($221,643), M. Hern├índez-Jover, V. Higgins, J. Toribio & M. Singh
  • Soils Cooperative Research Centre (Program 1 Participant). Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science ($39,000,000)

Fields of Research

  • Rural Sociology (160804)
  • Sociology (160899)
  • Agricultural Land Management (070101)
  • Organisational Planning and Management (150312)
  • Environmental Sociology (160802)
  • Sustainable Agricultural Development (070108)
  • Organisation and Management Theory (150310)
  • Farming Systems Research (070107)
  • Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology (160808)
  • Sociological Methodology and Research Methods (160807)
  • Business and Management (150399)

Research Objectives

  • Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society (970116)
  • Institutional Arrangements for Environmental Protection (960605)
  • Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments (960403)
  • Control of Plant Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments (960413)
  • Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services (970115)
  • Environmentally Sustainable Plant Production (829899)
  • Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Soils (961402)
  • Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management (960904)
  • Rights to Environmental and Natural Resources (excl. Water Allocation) (960606)
  • Land Stewardship (960704)
  • Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards (960799)

Publications

Vaughan’s publications and research strengths encompass two broad areas:

Neoliberal governance. Research under this theme has explored the dynamics of neoliberal forms of governing in a range of settings, but particularly in rural Australia. Drawing upon theories of governmentality as well as the sociology of science and technology, this work has contributed to theorisations of neoliberalism through analyses of the power relations and politics that has enabled market-oriented mechanisms of rule to evolve as the predominant approach to policy-making. Vaughan’s work in this area has also explored how these forms of rule are translated into practice at an industry, regional and organisational level, and the contestation, compromise and adaptation involved.

Governance strategies: implementation and responses. Work under this theme has focused on the implementation of specific strategies for changing individual practices, as well as responses to these strategies. For example, in a number of publications Vaughan has examined the market and voluntary incentives for enhancing agri-environmental sustainability that are increasingly favoured by governments, industry and farming organisations. Of particular interest are the adoption of these and other ‘programs of governing’ at an industry and farm level, the impacts on farmers’ environmental practices, and the extent to which this reduces dependence on ‘productivist’ agriculture.

Total publications

30

Highlighted publications

(2 outputs)
YearTypeCitationAltmetrics
2017Journal ArticleHiggins V, Bryant M, Howell A, Battersby J, 'Ordering adoption: materiality, knowledge and farmer engagement with precision agriculture technologies', Journal of Rural Studies, 55 pp. 193-202. ISSN 0743-0167 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.08.011 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 17Web of Science - 9

Co-authors: Bryant M

Tweet

2016Journal ArticleHiggins V, Bryant M, Hernandez-Jover M, McShane C, Rast L, 'Harmonising devolved responsibility for biosecurity governance: the challenge of competing institutional logics', Environment and Planning A, 48, (6) pp. 1133-1151. ISSN 0308-518X (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1177/0308518X16633471 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 17Web of Science - 17

Co-authors: Bryant M

Tweet

Journal Article

(13 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2019Bryant M, Higgins V, 'Managing the grand challenge of biological threats to food production: the importance of institutional logics for managing Australian biosecurity', Australian Journal of Management, 44, (4) pp. 534-550. ISSN 0312-8962 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1177/0312896219867997 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Bryant M

Tweet

2019Higgins V, Richards C, 'Framing sustainability: alternative standards schemes for sustainable palm oil and South-South trade', Journal of Rural Studies, 65 pp. 126-134. ISSN 0743-0167 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.11.001 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 5

Tweet

2019Higgins V, Love C, Dunn T, 'Flexible adoption of conservation agriculture principles: practices of care and the management of crop residue in Australian mixed farming systems', International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 17, (1) pp. 49-59. ISSN 1473-5903 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2018.1559526 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 7

Tweet

2018Higgins V, Bryant M, Hernandez-Jover M, Rast L, McShane C, 'Devolved Responsibility and On-Farm Biosecurity: Practices of Biosecure Farming Care in Livestock Production', Sociologia Ruralis, 58, (1) pp. 20-39. ISSN 0038-0199 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/soru.12155 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6

Co-authors: Bryant M

Tweet

2017Chirozva C, Black R, Higgins V, ''A Place of Pain and Gain': Exploring the Dynamics of Resistance in the Creation of Sengwe Tshipise Wilderness Corridor, Southeast Zimbabwe', Society and Natural Resources, 30, (8) pp. 964-979. ISSN 0894-1920 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2016.1265186 [eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2017Higgins V, Bryant M, Howell A, Battersby J, 'Ordering adoption: materiality, knowledge and farmer engagement with precision agriculture technologies', Journal of Rural Studies, 55 pp. 193-202. ISSN 0743-0167 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.08.011 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 17Web of Science - 9

Co-authors: Bryant M

Tweet

2017Sikder MJU, Higgins V, 'Remittances and social resilience of migrant households in rural Bangladesh', Migration and Development, 6, (2) pp. 253-275. ISSN 2163-2324 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/21632324.2016.1142752 [eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2016Higgins V, Bryant M, Hernandez-Jover M, McShane C, Rast L, 'Harmonising devolved responsibility for biosecurity governance: the challenge of competing institutional logics', Environment and Planning A, 48, (6) pp. 1133-1151. ISSN 0308-518X (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1177/0308518X16633471 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 17Web of Science - 17

Co-authors: Bryant M

Tweet

2016Richards C, Higgins V, 'Trade Liberalisation and Australian Biosecurity: Opportunities and Challenges Under the Shared Responsibility' Approach', Farm Policy Journal, 13, (3) pp. 1-9. ISSN 1449-2210 (2016) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2015Higgins V, Dibden J, Cocklin C, 'Private agri-food governance and greenhouse gas abatement: Constructing a corporate carbon economy', Geoforum, 66 pp. 75-84. ISSN 0016-7185 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.09.012 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 9Web of Science - 7

Tweet

2014Higgins V, 'Australia's developmental trajectory: Neoliberal or not?', Dialogues in Human Geography, 42 pp. 161-164. ISSN 2043-8206 (2014) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

DOI: 10.1177/2043820614536501 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7

Tweet

2014Higgins V, Dibden J, Potter C, Moon K, Cocklin C, 'Payments for Ecosystem Services, neoliberalisation, and the hybrid governance of land management in Australia', Journal of Rural Studies, 36 pp. 463-474. ISSN 0743-0167 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2014.10.003 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 21Web of Science - 21

Tweet

2014Higgins V, Potter C, Dibden J, Cocklin C, 'Neoliberalising rural environments', Journal of Rural Studies, 36 pp. 386-390. ISSN 0743-0167 (2014) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

[eCite] [Details]

Book

(9 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2017Higgins V, Larner W, 'Assembling Neoliberalism: Expertise, Practices, Subjects', Palgrave McMillan, United States, pp. 332. ISBN 978-1-137-58203-4 (2017) [Edited Book]

[eCite] [Details]

2017Sikder MJU, Higgins V, Ballis PH, 'Remittance income and social resilience among migrant households in rural Bangladesh', Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 281. ISBN 978-1-137-59241-5 (2017) [Authored Research Book]

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-57771-9 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1

Tweet

2013Farmar-Bowers Q, Higgins VJ, Millar J, 'Food Security in Australia: Challenges and Prospects for the Future', Springer, New York, pp. 476. ISBN 9781461444831 (2013) [Edited Book]

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-4484-8 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 9

Tweet

2010Higgins V, Larner W, 'Calculating the Social: Standards and the Reconfiguration of Governing', Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 227. ISBN 9780230579316 (2010) [Edited Book]

DOI: 10.1057/9780230289673 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3

Tweet

2009Kitto S, Higgins VJ, 'Pedagogical Machines: ICTs and Neoliberal Governance of the University', Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp. 162. ISBN 9781606927083 (2009) [Authored Research Book]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2006Cheshire L, Higgins V, Lawrence G, 'Rural Governance: International Perspectives', Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 304. ISBN 9780415399593 (2006) [Edited Book]

[eCite] [Details]

2005Higgins V, Lawrence G, 'Agricultural Governance: Globalization and the New Politics of Regulation', Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 228. ISBN 9780415352291 (2005) [Edited Book]

[eCite] [Details]

2003Higgins V, 'Constructing Reform: Economic Expertise and the Governing of Agricultural Change in Australia', Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp. 193. ISBN 1590336046 (2003) [Authored Research Book]

[eCite] [Details]

2001Lawrence G, Higgins V, 'Environment, Society and Natural Resource Management: Theoretical Perspectives from Australasia and the Americas', Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 2001. ISBN 9781840644494 (2001) [Edited Book]

[eCite] [Details]

Chapter in Book

(4 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2017Enticott G, Higgins V, 'Mapping Neoliberalism: Animal Health and the Spatial Practices of Disease Management', Assembling Neoliberalism: Expertise, Practices, Subjects, Palgrave Macmillan, V Higgins and W Larner (ed), United States, pp. 171-194. ISBN 978-1-137-58203-4 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-58204-1_9 [eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2017Higgins V, Larner W, 'Introduction: Assembling Neoliberalism', Assembling Neoliberalism: Expertise, Practices, Subjects, Palgrave Macmillan, V Higgins and W Larner (ed), United States, pp. 1-20. ISBN 978-1-137-58203-4 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-58204-1_1 [eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2017Miele M, Truninger M, Higgins V, Bjorkhaug H, 'Introduction', Transforming the rural: global processes and local futures, Emerald Publishing Limited, M Miele, V Higgins, H Bjorkhaug and M Truninger (ed), United Kingdom, pp. xi-xvii. ISBN 9781787148246 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2015Larner W, Higgins V, 'Conclusion: Awkward Assemblages', Assembling Neoliberalism: Expertise, Practices, Subjects, Palgrave McMillan, V Higgins and W Larner (ed), United States, pp. 305-312. ISBN 978-1-137-58203-4 (2015) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-58204-1_15 [eCite] [Details]

Tweet

Conference Publication

(4 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2016Herbert K, Wu H, Bowden P, Behrendt K, Higgins V, 'A National program to improve awareness and adoption of best management  practice for silverleaf nightshade control', 20th Australasian Weeds Conference, 11-15 September 2016, Perth, Australia (2016) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2016Higgins V, Herbert K, Bowden P, Wu H, Behrendt K, 'Social factors influencing landholder management of silverleaf nightshade', Twentieth Australasian Weeds Conference, 11-15 September 2016, Perth, Australia (2016) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2015Higgins V, Love C, Dunn T, Lemerle D, 'Why do farmers partially adopt conservation farming practices? A sociological study of stubble retention in NSW and Victoria', Proceedings of the 17th ASA Conference, 20-24 September 2015, Hobart, Tasmania (2015) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2015Lemerle D, Hume I, Nugent T, Higgins V, Love C, et al., 'Developing conservation agricultural innovations and practice change: a model for future research, development, extension and training in a brave new world', Proceedings of the 17 th ASA Conference, 20-24 September 2015, Hobart, Tasmania (2015) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

Grants & Funding

From 2010 to 2013, Vaughan was the lead investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery project ($230,000), which focused on the potential of market instruments to enhance sustainable rural land management in Australia. More recently, Vaughan has been involved in numerous government and industry-funded projects, including:

  • Biosecurity in the Peri-Urban Area of Sydney: Social Research Study. Funded by the New South Wales Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development ($98,958), M. Hern├índez-Jover, V. Higgins, M. Taylor & R. Woodgate
  • Social Factors Influencing Technology Adoption in the Australian Rice Industry. Funded by Rural Industries research and Development Corporation ($129,000), V. Higgins & M. Bryant
  • Improving Adoption of Management Strategies for Summer Perennial Weeds through Effective Engagement Processes. Funded by Meat and Livestock Australia ($585,000). H. Wu, K. Behrendt, V. Higgins & L. Weston.

Funding Summary

Number of grants

3

Total funding

$676,631

Projects

Protecting Australia's Food Future: Shared Responsibility for Biosecurity (2019 - 2021)$307,063
Description
Australian agriculture faces growing threats from exotic pests and diseases. This project investigates whether andto what extent Australias shared responsibility approach to biosecurity is capable of meeting these challenges.Through the analysis of policy documents and the use of semi-structured interviews, the project will contribute to adeeper understanding of the inter- and intra-organisational characteristics that influence implementation ofbiosecurity. In doing so, the project will provide crucial insights into the capacity of a shared responsibilityapproach to protect agri-food production against biological threats, and the forms of institutional change that maybe needed to enhance responsiveness to those threats.
Funding
Australian Research Council ($303,763)
Scheme
Grant-Discovery Projects
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Higgins VJ; Bryant M; Hernandez-Jover M
Period
2019 - 2021
Grant Reference
DP190102517
Understanding Adoptability of Techniques and Practices for Improved Soil Management (2019 - 2021)$322,417
Description
While improving Australias agricultural soils is a priority, adoption of programs and techniques for improved soil management has been relatively slow. This project aims to 1) investigate the efficacy of current strategies and techniques used by regional farming groups for improving soil management, and 2) conduct a comparative analysis across different regional contexts to develop a framework of commonalities and differences in relation to soil improvement priorities, drivers and pathways. The project will utilise qualitative social science research to investigate these aims. The project team will work in partnership with farming groups across Australia to develop models of adoptability, and a set of principles and recommendations for increasing adoption of improved soil management across different regional contexts. This two year project should be considered as Phase 1 of a four-year project that articulates and tests the social and institutional drivers that influence adoptability of improved soil management.
Funding
CRC for High Performance Soils Ltd ($322,417)
Scheme
Grant
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Higgins VJ; Leith PB; Bryant M; Allan C; Cockfield G
Period
2019 - 2021
Scoping systems of acceptance of improved soil management, with a focus on decision support systems and tools. (2018)$47,151
Description
The project will provide a literature review /scoping study to inform CRC perspectives on social and institutional dimensions of on-farm soil management and adoption.
Funding
CRC for High Performance Soils Ltd ($47,151)
Scheme
Grant
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Leith PB; Allan C; Higgins VJ
Year
2018

Vaughan is an experienced supervisor. He is currently interested in supervising students in the sociology of agriculture and food and environmental sociology. He is also interested in supervising topics that use post-realist approaches such as governmentality, actor network theory and assemblage thinking.