Social Contract Theory, originally proposed by Thomas Hobbes, is a concept that has been widely debated by political philosophers over the years. One of the most prominent figures in this debate is John Locke, who presented his own version of Social Contract Theory. In this article, we will be discussing what Locke’s Social Contract Theory is and how it differs from other versions of the theory.

What is Social Contract Theory?

Social Contract Theory is a political theory that suggests that individuals willingly give up some of their freedoms in exchange for protection and security provided by the government or society as a whole. This theory proposes that people are willing to surrender some of their natural rights to live in a society where they can enjoy other benefits like protection, justice, and prosperity.

Locke’s Version of Social Contract Theory

John Locke’s version of social contract theory differs from Hobbes’s version in several ways. According to Locke, individuals are born with certain natural rights such as life, liberty, and property. These rights are not given by any government or authority but are inherent to human beings.

Locke believed that individuals enter into a social contract with each other to form a government for their mutual protection and benefit. The government must protect these natural rights and ensure justice for all individuals under its rule.

The Role of Government according to Locke

Locke believed that the role of government was limited to protecting the natural rights of its citizens. If the government fails to protect these rights or oversteps its boundaries by infringing on these rights, then it loses its legitimacy as a governing body.

Moreover, he emphasized that governments should be based on the consent of the governed. This means that governments should be formed through fair and just elections where citizens have an equal say in choosing their representatives.

Citizens’ Responsibility towards Government

According to Locke’s Social Contract Theory, citizens have the responsibility to obey the laws of the government as long as they are just and do not interfere with their natural rights. However, if the laws are unjust or infringe upon citizens’ natural rights, then they have the right to resist or overthrow the government.


In conclusion, John Locke’s Social Contract Theory proposes that individuals enter into a social contract with each other to form a government for their mutual protection and benefit. The role of government is limited to protecting natural rights, which include life, liberty, and property.

Citizens have a responsibility to obey just laws and resist unjust ones. By understanding Locke’s Social Contract Theory, we can gain insights into how governments should function in a just society.