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Linda Burton

Linda M. Burton, PhD, MA

Inducted in 2022

Current Position

Dean, School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley



Linda M. Burton is dean of Berkeley Social Welfare and holds the Eugene and Rose Kleiner Chair for the Study of Processes, Practices and Policies in Aging. Prior to her arrival at Berkeley in 2019, Burton was the James B. Duke Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. In her role as dean of Social Sciences at Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, she was responsible for handling all matters relative to 239 faculty members in 14 departments and programs, including African/African American Studies, Economics, History, Political Science, and Women’s Studies. She simultaneously co-directed the undergraduate program on International Comparative Studies, was co-chair of the university’s Task Force on Bias and Hate Issues, and served on the university’s union bargaining team in negotiations with the Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) on behalf of Duke’s adjunct professors. Prior to joining Duke, she was a faculty member at Penn State for over 20 years and served as director of its Center for Human Development and Family Research in Diverse Contexts from 1998 to 2006. She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Southern California.

Dean Burton is a preeminent scholar on child welfare and poverty whose 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. Her methodological approach to exploring these issues is comparative, longitudinal, and multi-method. The comparative dimension of Burton’s 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. She employs longitudinal designs in her studies to identify distinct and often nuanced contextual and ethnic/racial features of development that shape the family structures, processes (e.g., intergenerational caregiving) and life course transitions (e.g., grandparenthood, marriage) families experience over time. She is principally an ethnographer but integrates survey and geographic and spatial analysis in her work. Burton was one of six principal investigators involved in a multi-site, multi-method collaborative study of the impact of welfare reform on families and children (Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study), 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).

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