Home Institution

American University

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Netherlands:International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender


This Independent Study Project investigates marriage and varying marriage alternatives available in the Netherlands and how societal norms and cultural taboos have affected these arrangements over the past fifty years. The high levels of acceptance in the Netherlands are used as a framework to explain the toleration of differing lifestyle and relationship choices, such as registered partnership, informal cohabitation, and same-sex marriage rights. Information was collected by conducting seven interviews with Dutch adults from different backgrounds with diverse views of and experiences with marriage and marriage alternatives. Secondary data on marriage rates in the Netherlands since 1960 were also used to determine historical trends.

The focus of the research was to determine how society views the institution of marriage and whether changes in cultural norms have affected rates of marriage. It is concluded that while there is no significant evidence proving the reason for the decrease in marriages, it is assumed that a more progressive, liberal view of society has allowed for these marriage alternatives to exist.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Politics and Social Change | Social and Behavioral Sciences


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