Asking About Reasonable Accommodation in the Context of Religious Universalism
International Journal of Discrimination and Law, Forthcoming
Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 134/2013
24 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2013 Last revised: 10 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 2, 2013
Interviews conducted with leading actors in England asking a range of questions about religious diversity and the legal framework and, in particular, about reasonable accommodation, helped identify a number of areas of concern. There was some doubt about whether specific legal provision should be brought in to guarantee reasonable accommodation. However, there was broad support for having the principle adopted in the practice of employers, while some preferred the current informality rather than the principle being enforced through litigation. None of the respondents came up with illustrations outside of Judaism, Christianity or Islam. The results are consistent with recent critical studies showing that the assumption in social sciences that religion is a universal has been imported from theology. Religion-based questions only pick out certain phenomena specific to some cultures and an inevitable skew is created when asking such questions because they only make sense within an Abrahamic religious framework. While enabling the identification of some aspects of culture considered to merit reasonable accommodation on grounds of religion, the results also pose questions about the adequacy of current, standard research methodologies which assume that religion is a universal.
A revised and updated version of the article will be published in the International Journal of Discrimination and Law.
Keywords: Religion, religious studies, methodology, reasonable accommodation, discrimination, religious freedom, Abrahamic religions
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation