The Role of Trust in Low-Income Mothers' Intimate Unions*


Journal Article

Recent scholarship concerning low rates of marriage among low-income mothers emphasizes generalized gender distrust as a major impediment in forming sustainable intimate unions. Guided by symbolic interaction theory and longitudinal ethnographic data on 256 low-income mothers from the Three-City Study, we argue that generalized gender distrust may not be as influential in shaping mothers' unions as some researchers suggest. Grounded theory analysis revealed that 96% of the mothers voiced a general distrust of men, yet that distrust did not deter them from involvement in intimate unions. Rather, the pivotal ways mothers enacted trust in their partners were demonstrated by 4 emergent forms of interpersonal trust that we labeled as suspended, compartmentalized, misplaced, and integrated. Implications for future research are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Burton, LM; Cherlin, A; Winn, D-M; Estacion, A; Holder-Taylor, C

Published Date

  • December 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 71 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1107 - 1124

PubMed ID

  • 19966929

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19966929

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1741-3737

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-2445

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00658.x


  • eng