“Half-freedom”: Retail Trade Labour Relations in Lisbon and the Introduction of the Weekly Rest, 1870–1910

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The shops’ Sunday closing in Lisbon in the final decades of the nineteenth century was a relevant issue regarding labour relations. On the one hand, it was related to a liberal stance about the freedom of work and trade by the shopkeepers. On the other hand, it was part of the demands for better working conditions by the clerks. But it was related also to the competitive economy of the retail trade, with the paternalistic view of the shopkeepers toward their employees and with a growing tension towards the regulation of economic activities by the municipal and central authorities. In this study we look at the discussions and controversies surrounding the Sunday closing issue in Lisbon, which had about twelve thousand shops, on average, between 1890 and 1910, and compare with what was happening in other European cities, such as London, Paris, Milan or Athens. The study is based on analysis of the documentation of Lisbon’s Shopkeepers Association, on legislation and newspapers. One of the conclusions is that the retailers in Lisbon, despite being quite liberal and sometimes even radical in their political stance, were very conservative regarding the management of human resources in the shops, and this had an impact on the way the Sunday rest was or wasn’t implemented in the city’s retail trade.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLabour History in the Semi-periphery
Subtitle of host publicationSouthern Europe, 19th-20th centuries
EditorsLeda Papastefanaki, Nikos Potamianos
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter Oldenbourg
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-062052-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • History
  • Shopkeepers
  • Lisbon
  • Labor
  • Nineteenth and early twentieth centuries


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