In political philosophy, the social contract theory refers to the idea that individuals voluntarily give up some of their freedom in exchange for protection and security provided by the state. This theory has been explored by many philosophers throughout history, including Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau.

But do we still use the social contract theory today? Let’s take a closer look.

The Basics of Social Contract Theory

According to social contract theory, people give up some of their individual liberty and allow themselves to be governed by a state in exchange for protection and security. This agreement is considered a social contract between the citizens and the state. The state is responsible for protecting its citizens from harm, maintaining order, and providing essential services such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

The Evolution of Social Contract Theory

The idea of social contract theory has evolved over time. Hobbes suggested that people were naturally selfish and violent and therefore needed a strong government to keep them in check.

Locke believed that individuals had natural rights that needed to be protected by the government. Rousseau believed that individuals were inherently good but corrupted by society.

Modern Interpretations

Today, social contract theory is often used as a framework for discussing issues such as taxation, civil liberties, and political representation. Many believe that citizens have an obligation to obey laws because they have implicitly agreed to do so through their participation in society.

However, there are also critics who argue that social contract theory is outdated and insufficient for dealing with modern societal challenges. They argue that it fails to address issues such as inequality or environmental concerns.


In conclusion, while the specific concepts of social contract theory may not be widely discussed today, its basic principles remain relevant in modern politics. The idea that citizens have an obligation to obey laws in exchange for protection remains a fundamental aspect of our society’s governing structure. However, as society continues to evolve, it is important to reexamine and update our understanding of the social contract theory to ensure that it remains a useful framework for addressing contemporary issues.