Reimagining social citizenship for single mothers: Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip, then and now.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Helen Garner’s first novel, Monkey Grip, has become an icon of the Australian literary scene and a touchstone in the lives of many women. This chapter explores how the book can facilitate the reimagining and valuing of single mothers’ contributions to their communities. It uses the activities and orientations of Nora, the protagonist, as tools for developing a more expansive conceptualisation of social citizenship that might be applied to the lives of contemporary single mothers. It suggests that recognising Nora’s contributions to her households and broader community challenges the currently dominant framing of single mothers as either only mothers or employed workers. Nora’s life reorients us to women’s experiences and claims as active and meaningful contributors to social spaces beyond family and labour markets.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralian Mothering
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical and Sociological Perspectives
EditorsCarla Pascoe Leahy, Petra Bueskens
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-20267-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-20266-8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • History
  • Family
  • Policy
  • Sociology
  • Identity
  • Social practice
  • breastfeeding
  • childbirth
  • Health
  • LGBT


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