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

Stack, CB, and Burton, LM. "Kinscripts." Journal of Comparative Family Studies 24.2 (January 1, 1993): 157-170. (Review)

Dilworth-Anderson, P, Burton, LM, and Turner, W. "The importance of values in the study of culturally diverse families." Family Relations 42 (1993): 238-242. (Academic Article)

Burton, LM. "Families and aging: Complexity and diversity." Generations 25 (1992): 5-6. (Academic Article)

Burton, LM, Dilworth-Anderson, P, and Bengtson, VL. "Creating new ways of thinking about diversity and aging: Theoretical challenges for the twenty-first century." Generations 15 (1992): 67-72. (Academic Article)

Burton, LM, and Merriwether-deVries, C. "The challenges and rewards of rearing grandchildren for African-American grandparents." Generations 25 (1992): 51-54. (Academic Article)

Burton, LM. "Caring for children: Drug shifts and their impact on families." American Enterprise 2 (1991): 34-37. (Academic Article)

Burton, LM, and Dilworth-Anderson, P. "The intergenerational family roles of aged black Americans." Marriage and Family Review 16 (1991): 311-330. (Academic Article)