Linda M Burton
  • Linda M Burton

  • Dean of Social Sciences and James B. Duke Professor of Sociology
  • Sociology
  • 348A Soc/Psych Building
  • Campus Box 90088
  • Phone: (919) 660-5609
  • Fax: 919-660-5623
  • Homepage
  • Specialties

    • Family Structure
    • Poverty and Inequality
    • Child Development
  • Research Description

    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

    Poverty,
    Intergenerational Families,
    Family Life Course Transitions,
    Neighborhood Context,
    Ethnographic Methods
  • Education

      • PhD,
      • Sociology, University of Southern California,
      • 1985
      • MA,
      • Sociology, University of Southern California,
      • 1982
      • BS,
      • Gerontology (with honors), University of Southern California,
      • 1978
  • Selected Publications

      • Brady, D. & Burton, L.M. (Eds.).
      • (forthcoming).
      • The Oxford handbook of the social science of poverty.
      • N.Y.:
      • Oxford University Press.
      • Burton, L.M..
      • (2014).
      • Seeking romance in the crosshairs of multiple partner fertility: Ethnographic insights on low-income urban and rural mothers.
      • The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
      • ,
      • 654
      • ,
      • 185-212.
      • Garrett-Peters, R. & Burton, L.M..
      • (In Press).
      • Tenuous ties: The nature and costs of kin support among low-income rural African American mothers.
      • Women, Gender, and Families of Color
      • .
      • Burton, L.M. & Stack, C. B..
      • (2014).
      • Breakfast at Elmo’s:” Adolescent boys and disruptive politics in the Kinscripts’ narrative.
      • In A.Garey, R. Hertz, & M. Nelson (Eds.),
      • Open to disruption: Practicing slow sociology
      • .
      • Nashville, TN:
      • Vanderbilt University Press.
      • Burton, L.M., Garrett-Peters, R., & Eason, J.
      • (2011).
      • Morality, Identity, and Mental Health in Rural Ghettos.
      • .
      • NY: Springer.
      • Burton, L.M. Lichter, D.T., Baker, R.S., & Eason, J.M..
      • (2013).
      • Inequality, family processes, and health in the “new” rural America.
      • American Behavioral Scientist
      • ,
      • 57
      • (8)
      • ,
      • 1128-1151.
      Publication Description

      Rural America is commonly viewed as a repository of virtuous and patriotic values, deeply rooted in a proud immigrant history of farmers and industrious working-class White ethnics from northern Europe. These views are not always consistent with the population and socioeconomic realities of rural terrains. Exceptions to these stereotypes are self-evident in large poor racial/ethnic minorities residing in rural ghettos in the “dirty” South and among poor Whites living in remote, mountainous areas of Appalachia. For these disadvantaged populations, socio-cultural and economic isolation, a lack of quality education, too few jobs, and poor health have taken a human toll, generation after generation. Moreover, the past several decades has brought dramatic shifts in the spatial distribution and magnitude of poverty in these areas. And, America’s persistent racial inequalities have continued to fester as rural communities become home to urban-origin racial minority migrants and immigrants from Mexico and Latin America. As a result, the face of rural America has changed, quite literally. In this article, we address the primary question these changes pose: How will shifting inequalities anchored in poverty and race shape health disparities in a “new” rural America? Guided by fundamental cause theory, we explore the scope and sources of poverty and race inequalities in rural America, how patterns in these inequalities are transduced within families, and what these inequalities mean for future of health disparities within and across rural U.S. terrains. Our goal is to review and interrogate the extant literature on this topic with the intent of offering recommendations for future research.

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  • Postdoctoral Students

    • Juhi Verma
      • 2012 -Present
    • Cecily Hardaway
      • Present
    • Sabrina Pendergrass
      • 2010 - Present
    • John Eason
      • 2008 - 2010
    • Please See Comments to the Chair
      • 2008-Present
    • Please See Comments to the Chair
      • 2004- present
    • Please See Comments to the Chair
      • 2006 - present
  • ict background