Michael Burton joined Loyola's sociology department in 1978, and served two terms as its chair (1982-86 and 1989-92). Born in Center, Texas, and raised among cowboys and farmers on the rural outskirts of Houston, Burton received his undergraduate degree in sociology from the University of Houston and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to Loyola, he taught sociology at Memphis State University (now University of Memphis). In 2006, he co-founded Loyola’s interdisciplinary major in Global Studies, and served as the program’s director during 2006-10.
Burton's main research interests lie in the broad area of political sociology, and more specifically in how national elites create or, more commonly, fail to create the necessary foundations of political stability and liberal democracy. In collaboration with his University of Texas mentor, political scientist John Higley, he published articles on this subject in American Sociological Review, Sociological Quarterly, Journal of Political and Military Sociology, International Politics, and Government and Opposition, as well as several book chapters. In 2006, Higley and Burton published their first book, Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracy (Rowman & Littlefield), which applied their theoretical framework in analyzing how elites in 45 countries achieved the normative understandings and cooperative internal relations that are essential to political stability and the practice of liberal democracy.
For fun, Burton seeks to recapture his boyhood delights in rural life on a hilltop in the Allegheny foothills of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Michael Burton's C.V. (PDF).