Days of rest in multicultural societies: Private, public, separate?

Ruth Gavison, Nahshon Perez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Introduction Days of rest have not been given a central place in discussions of modern societies. However, regulation of days of rest provides a fascinating illustration of a variety of central issues in such societies. In Western societies, the issue of days of rest has usually been seen as concerned with the relationship between state and religion. Religions make demands about the way the day of rest, which is also a day of special worship, should be observed. So long as communities were religious and homogeneous, religious days of rest were generally observed. Usually, the right of members of other religions to their own observances was respected to some extent, at least in the private sphere. As societies became more secularized and plural, such arrangements began to be challenged both by secular members of the majority culture, who resented what they saw as religious coercion, and by members of minority cultures and religions, who saw an opportunity to reduce the burdens they had carried under the traditional arrangement. Both challenges invoked human rights discourse, demanding that arrangements respect individual as well as collective rights to freedom of religion and freedom from religion, and rights to culture. The subject is also discussed as an issue of minority rights, and as an aspect of the ideal of multiculturalism. In some countries, the issue has legal or even constitutional significance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw and Religion in Theoretical and Historical Context
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780511493843
ISBN (Print)9780521425902
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2008 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.


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