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Linda Burton, James B. Duke Professor of Sociology and Arts & Sciences and Senior Fellow of Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development and Faculty Research Scholar of DuPRI's Population Research Center and Affiliate of the Center for Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research

Linda Burton
Contact Info:
Office Location:  302 Towerview Road, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 613-9258
Email Address:   send me a message
Web Page:  


Ph.D. University of Southern California 1985
M.S. University of Southern California 1982
MA Sociology, University of Southern California 1982
B.S. University of Southern California 1978

Family Structure
Poverty and Inequality
Child Development
Research Interests:

My program of research is conceptually grounded in life course, developmental, and ecological perspectives and focuses on three themes concerning the lives of America's poorest urban, small town, and rural families: (1) intergenerational family structures, processes, and role transitions; (2) the meaning of context and place in the daily lives of families; and, (3) childhood adultification and the accelerated life course. My methodological approach to exploring these issues is comparative, longitudinal, and multi-method. The comparative dimension of my research comprises in-depth within group analysis of low income African American, White, and, Hispanic/Latino families, as well as systematic examinations of similarities and differences across groups. I employ longitudinal designs in my studies to identify distinct and often nuanced contextual and ethnic/racial features of development that shape the family structures, processes (e.g., intergenerational care-giving) and life course transitions (e.g., grandparenthood, marriage) families experience over time. I am principally an ethnographer, but integrate survey and geographic and spatial analysis in my work. I was one of six principal investigators involved in an multisite, multi-method collaborative study of the impact of welfare reform on families and children (Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study). I directed the ethnographic component of the Three-City Study and was also principal investigator of an ethnographic study of rural poverty and child development (The Family Life Project).

Areas of Interest:

Intergenerational Families,
Family Life Course Transitions,
Neighborhood Context,
Ethnographic Methods

Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Brady, D. & Burton, L.M. (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of the social science of poverty (in press), Oxford University Press.
  2. W. Welsh & Burton, L.M., Home, heart, and being Latina: Housing and intimate relationship power among low-income Mexican mothers, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity (in press).
  3. R. Garrett-Peters & L.M. Burton, Reframing marriage and marital delay among low-income mothers: An interactionist perspective, Journal of Family Theory and Review (2015), pp. 242-264.
  4. Burton, LM, Seeking Romance in the Crosshairs of Multiple-Partner Fertility, edited by Carlson, MJ; Meyer, DR, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 654 no. 1 (2014), pp. 185-212, SAGE Publications [doi].
  5. Burton, LM; Stack, CB, “Breakfast at Elmo’s”: Adolescent boys and disruptive politics in the kinscripts narrative, in Open to Disruption: Time and Craft in the Practice of Slow Sociology, edited by A.Garey, R. Hertz, & M. Nelson (January, 2014), pp. 174-191, Vanderbilt University Press.

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