Linda Burton

Linda Burton

James B. Duke Professor of Sociology

External Address: 
302 Towerview Road, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90545, Durham, NC 27708-0545
(919) 613-9258


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).

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Southern California 1985

  • M.S., University of Southern California 1982

  • B.S., University of Southern California 1978

Burton, LM, and Stack, CB. "Kinscripts and adolescent childbearing." The politics of pregnancy. Ed. DL Rhode and A Lawson. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993. 174-185.

Burton, LM, and Stack, CB. "Conscripting kin: Reflections on family, generation, and culture." Family, self, and society. Ed. P Cowan, D Field, D Hanson, A Skolnick, and G Swanson. New York: Erlbaum Associates, 1992. 103-113.

Bengtson, VL, Rosenthal, C, and Burton, LM. "Families and aging." Handbook of aging and the social sciences. Ed. R Binstock and L George. New York: Academic Press, 1990. 263-287.

Elder, GH, Caspi, A, and Burton, LM. "Adolescent transitions in developmental perspective: Sociological and historical insights." Minnesota symposium on child psychology. Ed. M Gunnar. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1987. 151-179.

Burton, LM, and Bengtson, VL. "Black grandmothers: Issues of timing and meaning in roles." Grandparenthood: Research and policy. Ed. VL Bengtson and J Robertson. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1985. 61-77.

Burton, LM, and Bengtson, VL. "Research in minority communities: Problems and potentials." Minority aging: Sociological and social psychological issues. Ed. R Manuel. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982. 215-222.

Bengtson, VL, Manuel, RC, and Burton, LM. "Sociology of age." Aging prospects and issues. Ed. R Davis. Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California Press, 1981. 22-39.

Brady, D, and Burton, L. "Social science and poverty from a global perspective (In preparation)." The Oxford handbook of the social science of poverty. New York: Oxford University Press.

Streib, J, Verma, SJ, Welsh, W, and Burton, L. "Life, death, and resurrection: The culture of poverty (In preparation)." The Oxford handbook of the social science of poverty. New York: Oxford University Press.


Whitfield, KE, Angel, J, Burton, LM, and Hayward, M. "Diverstiy, disparities, and inequalities in aging." Public Policy and Aging Report 16.3 (2006): 16-22. (Academic Article)

Tubbs, CY, Roy, K, and Burton, L. "Family ties constructing family time in low-income families." Family Process 44.1 (2005): 77-91. (Academic Article)

Burton, LM. "The scholar and the oak tree: A profile of Vern L. Bengtson." Contemporary Gerontology 11.3 (2005): 91-94.

Cherlin, AJ, Hurt, TR, Burton, LM, and Purvin, DM. "The Influence of Physical and Sexual Abuse on Marriage and Cohabitation." American Sociological Review 69.6 (December 2004): 768-789. Full Text

Roy, KM, Tubbs, CY, and Burton, LM. "Don't Have No Time: Daily Rhythms and the Organization of Time for Low-Income Families*." Family Relations 53.2 (March 2004): 168-178. Full Text

Burton, LM, Winn, DM, Stevenson, H, and Clark, SL. "Working with African American clients: Considering the " homeplace" in marriage and family therapy practices." Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 30.4 (January 1, 2004): 397-410. (Review) Full Text

Dallas, CM, and Burton, LM. "Health disparities among men from racial and ethnic minority populations." Annual Review of Nursing 22 (2004): 77-100. (Academic Article)

Burton, LM, and Whitfield, KE. "Weathering toward poorer health in later life: Co-morbidity in low-income families urban families." Public Policy and Aging Report 13 (2003): 13-18.

Roy, K, and Burton, LM. "Kinscription: Mothers keeping fathers connected to children." Journal of Zero to Three 23 (2003): 27-32. (Academic Article)

Cherlin, AJ, Bogen, K, Quane, JM, and Burton, L. "Operating within the rules: Welfare recipients' experiences with sanctions and case closings." Social Service Review 76.3 (September 1, 2002): 386-403.