Social contract theory is an essential concept in the field of political philosophy. It is a theory that explains how people come together to form a society and how they agree to live under a set of rules and laws for the common good.

The idea of social contract theory has been around for centuries, and it has influenced many political systems around the world. In this article, we will explore the importance of social contract theory in modern society.

What is Social Contract Theory?

Social contract theory states that individuals give up some of their individual rights in exchange for protection and benefits provided by an organized society. In other words, people agree to live under certain rules and regulations enforced by a governing body in exchange for security and order. This governing body can be a monarchy, democracy, or any other form of government.

Origin of Social Contract Theory

The concept of social contract theory can be traced back to ancient times when Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle discussed the role of government in society. However, it was during the Enlightenment period in the 17th and 18th centuries that this theory gained prominence among political thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Importance of Social Contract Theory

Social contract theory has played a significant role in shaping modern political systems around the world. Here are some reasons why it is important:

1) Provides Legitimacy to Government

Social contract theory provides legitimacy to governments by giving them the authority to govern over individuals who have agreed to live under their rule. It gives individuals a reason to follow laws and regulations enforced by the government because they have voluntarily agreed to do so.

2) Protects Individual Rights

Social contract theory recognizes that individuals have certain natural rights that cannot be taken away from them by any governing body or individual. This theory ensures that individuals have the right to life, liberty, and property, and that the government is responsible for protecting these rights.

3) Promotes Social Stability

Social contract theory promotes social stability by establishing a system of rules and regulations that everyone in society must follow. This system creates predictability and order in society, which helps to reduce social conflict and promote cooperation.

Criticisms of Social Contract Theory

While social contract theory has many benefits, it has also faced criticism from various political philosophers. Some critics argue that the theory assumes individuals are rational beings who always act in their best interest. Others argue that it ignores the fact that some individuals may not have equal bargaining power when agreeing to a social contract.


In conclusion, social contract theory is an important concept in modern politics. It provides legitimacy to governments, protects individual rights, and promotes social stability.

However, it is not without its flaws and has faced criticism from various political thinkers throughout history. Nonetheless, this theory remains a crucial concept in understanding how societies are organized and how they function.