Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

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

TitleThe Role of Trust in Low-Income Mothers' Intimate Unions*
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBurton, LM, Cherlin, A, Winn, DM, Estacion, A, Holder-Taylor, C
JournalJournal of marriage and the family
Date PublishedDec 1
ISBN Number0022-2445; 0022-2445
Accession Number19966929

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.