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

Jarrett, RL, Roy, K, and Burton, LM. "Fathers in the hood: Insights from qualitative research on low income African American men." Handbook on fatherhood involvement: Multidisciplinary perspectives. Ed. CTL Monda and N Cabrera. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.

Burton, LM, and Jayakody, R. "Rethinking family structure and single parenthood. Implications for future studies of African-American families and children." Family and child well-being: Research and data needs. Ed. A Thornton. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001.

Burton, LM. "One step forward and two steps back: Neighborhoods and adolescent development." Does it take a village? Community effects on children, adolescents, and families. Ed. A Booth and AC Crouter. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001.

Dilworth-Anderson, P, and Burton, LM. "Critical issues in understanding family support and older minorities." Minority elders: Five goals toward building a public policy base. Ed. TP Miles. Washington, DC: The Gerontological Society of America, 1999.

Burton, LM, and Price-Spratlen, T. "Through the eyes of children: An ethnographic perspective on neighborhoods and child development." Cultural processes in child development: Minnesota symposium on child psychology. Ed. A Masten. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1999.

Obeidallah, DO, and Burton, LM. "Affective ties between mothers and daughters in adolescent childbearing families." Conflict and closeness: The formation, functioning, and stability of families. Ed. J Brooks-Gunn and M Cox. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999.

Burton, LM, and Graham, JE. "Neighborhood rhythms and the social activities of adolescent mothers." January 1998. 7-22.

Burton, LM, and Snyder, AR. "The invisible man revisited: Comments on the life course, history, and men's roles in American families." Men in families. Ed. A Booth and AC Crouter. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998.

Burton, LM, Price-Spratlen, T, and Spencer, M. "On ways of thinking about and measuring neighborhoods: Implications for studying context and developmental outcomes for children." Neighborhood poverty: Context and consequences for children. Ed. G Duncan, J Brooks-Gunn, and L Aber. New York: Russell Sage, 1997.

Spencer, MB, McDermott, P, Burton, LM, and Cole, S. "An alternative approach for assessing neighborhood effects on early adolescent achievement and problem behavior." Neighborhood poverty: Context and consequences for children. Ed. G Duncan, J Brooks-Gunn, and L Aber. New York: Russell Sage, 1997.


Welsh, W, and Burton, LM. "Home and heart: Housing and relationship power among low-income mothers." (2012). (Academic Article)

Welsh, W, and Burton, LM. "Weapons of the weak and housing in the lives of low-income mothers." (2012). (Academic Article)

Burton, LM, Welsh, WC, R L, L, T, , and Kull, M. "Public housing use trajectories in the adult lives of low-income mothers: A mixed methods analysis." (2012). (Academic Article)

Burton, LM, Welsh, W, and Flippen, C. "Race, housing, and intimate union power in the lives of low-income mothers." (2012). (Academic Article)

Burton, LM, and Seamster, L. "A culmulative disadvantage model of intimate unions among low-income women." (2012). (Academic Article)

Cross-Barnet, C, Cherlin, A, and Burton, L. "Bound by Children: Intermittent Cohabitation and Living Together Apart." Family Relations 60.5 (December 2011): 633-647. Full Text

Clark, SL, Burton, LM, and Flippen, CA. "Housing Dependence and Intimate Relationships in the Lives of Low-Income Puerto Rican Mothers." Journal of Family Issues 32.3 (March 2011): 369-393. Full Text

Burton, LM, Ray, V, and Seamster, L. "Back to the future: considering contemporary approaches on race, ethnicity, and colorism in family therapy and research (In preparation)." Invited article for the journal Family Process (2011). (Academic Article)

Tubbs, CY, and Burton, LM. "Family theories and families of color (In preparation)." Invited chapter for the Handbook of family theories: A content-based approach, Mark Fine and Frank Fincham (eds.) (2011). (Academic Article)