Supranational cultural norms, domestic value orientations and the diffusion of same-sex union rights in Europe, 1988-2009 Articles uri icon

publication date

  • January 2013

start page

  • 102

end page

  • 120


  • 28

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0268-5809

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1461-7242


  • The process of policy diffusion is gaining increasing attention among social scientists. Following world society theory, a burgeoning literature reports a positive relationship between national linkages to global cultural norms and the diffusion of public policies. However, previous analyses do not simultaneously control for time-varying domestic cultural orientations. In order to conduct a stricter test of this theory, this article examines the wave of same-sex union (SSU) laws in Europe. While in the mid-1980s, no European country provided explicit recognition to gay and lesbian couples, by 2009, 16 European countries had legalized these unions. Using event history models, the article tests predictions of the world society theory and Inglehart's domestic-cultural theory. Results provide strong support for the world society and domestic-cultural theories. Countries with a higher level of value secularization and stronger links to the global cultural order are more likely to introduce legal protections for SSUs.


  • europe; policy diffusion; same-sex marriage; same-sex unions; world society theory