Professor Larry Barnett Presented His Research at Four Italian Universities
Web Editor - Published: April 6, 2010
From March 1st through March 5th, Professor Larry D. Barnett was in Italy to discuss a research project for which he was the principal author. Dr. Pietro Saitta of the University of Messina, who previously visited Widener Law’s Delaware campus, was the junior author of the study.

While in Italy, Professor Barnett spoke at the University of Florence, the University of Messina, the University of Milan, and the University of Siena. “The subject of the presentations was a study of the societal conditions that led to the adoption in Europe of legislation recognizing same-sex non-marital partnerships and same-sex marriage,” said Professor Barnett, adding, “The study was based on the assumption that individuals do not have a substantial, permanent impact on the doctrines of law and that such doctrines are thus not random. Instead, the premise of the study was that doctrines of law stem from sociological, demographic, and economic attributes of jurisdictions.”

Professor Barnett and Dr. Saitta tested the proposition that legal doctrines result from the characteristics of jurisdictions by analyzing data on fourteen European Union nations, ten of which adopted legislation recognizing same-sex non-marital partnerships and/or same-sex marriage. In a regression analysis of the data, the odds that a country would adopt such legislation were found to increase with the level of wealth and education of the population and with the percentage of the population that resided in highly populated urban areas.

This type of study is relatively recent in the United States and has evidently not been done in Italy. “Indeed, my motivation in making the presentations was to introduce the research approach to persons in Italy who might employ it in their own work,” he noted, adding, “I would be especially pleased if some of the graduate students who attended the presentations conduct the same type of research for their doctoral dissertations, and continue to do this type of research in their professional careers.”

As far as the trip itself, Professor Barnett said, “Because of the number of cities involved in the presentations, the pace of the trip was often frenetic. The trip, however, was also gratifying. The red carpet was rolled out, and I expect that, in the future, I will return to Italy, as well as be in other European countries, to cement existing relationships and establish new ones for the law school.” In July, he will travel to the University of Gothenburg in Sweden to make a presentation at the annual meeting of the Research Committee on the Sociology of Law, an organization of mainly European scholars in a variety of academic disciplines.