social contract

A social contract is an unofficial agreement shared by everyone in a society in which they give up some freedom for security.

The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau popularized the idea of the social contract in the 1700s, but it’s just as applicable today. As members of a society, we agree to the social contract — we cooperate with each other and obey society’s laws. We also give up some freedoms, because we want the protection society can offer. The founders of the United States believed the social contract made citizens powerful, giving them a collective voice in their government.

Definitions of social contract
  1. noun

    an implicit agreement among people that results in the organization of society; individual surrenders liberty in return for protection

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    type of:

    accord, agreement

    harmony of people’s opinions or actions or characters

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