Meaning of social contract in English:

social contract

(also social compact)



  • An implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits, for example by sacrificing some individual freedom for state protection. Theories of a social contract became popular in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries among theorists such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as a means of explaining the origin of government and the obligations of subjects.

    ‘The rights we have are there by accord and by some kind of social contract - a social contract that is also to an extent built upon biology.’
    • ‘As is true in society, an implicit social contract serves as the basis for maintaining order in schools.’
    • ‘The social compact underpinning any society is that citizens are not permitted to kill or maim their fellows.’
    • ‘And for all his talk about representative governments, social contracts and civil society, Rousseau had more to do with the origins of totalitarian society than he did with democracy.’
    • ‘In a democratic regime, relations between individuals are commonly regulated by a social contract.’
    • ‘Hobbes held that, in the absence of a social contract, people would only do those things which benefited their own interests.’
    • ‘As he sees it, a General Crisis is a time when it is unclear who is hegemon and there is a reworking of the social contract between citizens and society.’
    • ‘At the same time he followed Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau in proposing the social contract as the ultimate test of political legitimacy.’
    • ‘This Budget strengthens the social contract between this Government and our people.’
    • ‘Fox-hunters are among those groups who subscribe to the social contract of democratic, consensual governance.’
    • ‘Marriage is more of a social contract among the Bedu than a love match.’
    • ‘This is because, in forming a state, citizens join in a social contract, and abrogate their right of free action to the sovereign body.’
    • ‘Through social contracts they surrender their individual sovereignty to the collective and create states.’
    • ‘Stripped down to its bare essentials, marriage is an enduring social contract between a consenting man and woman.’
    • ‘The presidency has identified the summit as the beginning of a social compact between the government, business, civil society and labour.’
    • ‘Well, why shouldn't the Government use the means at their disposal to track down people who have broken the social contract and owe the state money?’
    • ‘A new social contract is urgently needed to base the power of those who govern on the consent of the governed.’
    • ‘A marriage contract is a social contract, not just an agreement between the bonded pair.’
    • ‘Much more important to me are freedom, compassion for the poor, respect for the social contract, and equal opportunity.’
    • ‘The country needs more reforms, including an equitable social contract and a new constitution.’