The social contract theory is a fundamental concept in political philosophy that attempts to explain the relationship between individuals and the state. This theory holds that individuals come together and agree to form a society and establish a government to protect their rights and promote their well-being. In this article, we will simplify the social contract theory and explore its key components.

What is the Social Contract Theory?

The social contract theory is a philosophical concept that dates back to ancient Greece. It argues that individuals voluntarily give up some of their individual freedoms in exchange for protection and security provided by the state. According to this theory, the state exists only to serve its citizens and should be accountable to them.

Key Components of the Social Contract Theory

Individual Rights

At the heart of the social contract theory lies the idea of individual rights. These rights include life, liberty, and property, which are considered natural rights that every individual possesses. The social contract theory asserts that these rights are not granted by the state but rather are inherent in all humans.

The Role of Government

Under this theory, government exists solely to serve its citizens by protecting their natural rights and promoting their well-being. The government derives its power from the consent of the governed, which means that citizens have a say in how they are governed.

Citizen Responsibilities

In exchange for protection and security provided by the state, citizens have certain responsibilities towards it. These responsibilities include paying taxes, obeying laws, serving on juries when called upon, and defending their country if necessary.

The Significance of Social Contract Theory

The significance of this theory lies in its ability to provide a framework for understanding political systems and justifying them. It offers an explanation as to why governments exist and what their purpose is. It also provides guidance on how governments should be structured and how they should interact with their citizens.


In conclusion, the social contract theory is a fundamental concept that explains the relationship between individuals and the state. It highlights the importance of individual rights, the role of government, and citizen responsibilities. By understanding this theory, we can better understand political systems and what governments owe their citizens.