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Poor Mothers and Lonely Single Males: The ‘Essentially’ Excluded Women and Men of Australia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 September 2012

Roger Patulny
School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication, University of Wollongong E-mail:
Melissa Wong
Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales E-mail:


It is unclear how much gendered social exclusion and disconnection reflects a problem or a preference. Women may prefer market-disengagement despite the risk of exclusion from ‘normal’ social activities through financial incapacity, and men may prefer market-engagement despite the risk of disconnection from informal social networks. This article examines these issues amongst Australian men and women. It finds women, particularly single and low-income mothers, are more socially excluded, and men, particularly single middle-aged men, are the most socially disconnected, after preferences. Future policy should be cognisant of contact preferences, intra-household support dynamics, long work hours and prevailing gender norms.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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