James B. Duke Professor of Sociology
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).
Burton, LM, and Martin, P. "Thematikin der mehrgenerationenfamilie: Ein beispiel (Themes in multigeneration families: An example)." German Journal of Gerontology 21(June) (1987): 275-282. (Academic Article)
Hagestad, GO, and Burton, LM. "Grandparenthood, life context, and family development." American Behavioral Scientist 29 (1986): 471-484. (Academic Article)
Bengtson, VL, and Burton, L. "Mental health and the black elderly: Competence, susceptibility, and quality of life." Journal of Minority Aging 7.3 & 4 (1981): 25-31.
Welsh, W, and Burton, L. "Home, heart, and being Latina:Housing and intimate relationship power among low-income Mexican mothers (In preparation)." Sociology of Race and Ethnicity.
Garrett-Peters, R, and Burton, L. "Tenuous ties: The nature and costs of kin support among low-income rural African American mothers (In preparation)." Women, Gender, and Families of Color.