social contract


Definition of social contract

: an actual or hypothetical agreement among the members of an organized society or between a community and its ruler that defines and limits the rights and duties of each

Examples of social contract in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Society needs police, this film’s politically engaged subtext seems to be saying, but what happens when the social contract breaks down? Peter Debruge, Variety, 10 Sep. 2021 There’s a growing understanding among business leaders of the need to revise their social contract with society. Christopher Marquis, Forbes, 3 July 2021 If the social contract breaks down, and people do not adequately look after each other, then crises (of finance, public health or the environment, for example) will threaten prosperity. The Economist, 20 Mar. 2021 Those differences speak to the broader goals that politicians and activists have in mind when talking about a Green New Deal: not just at upgrading energy systems but remaking the fractured social contract upon which this country was built. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 20 Apr. 2021 Taken together, these moves represent a shift in the social contract that existed under Mr. Xi’s two immediate predecessors, in which the party expanded personal freedoms in exchange for acquiescence to the party’s monopoly on politics. Keith Zhai, WSJ, 1 Sep. 2021 Tax is one lever to rebuild social trust and the social contract between a state and its citizens. Malcolm Turnbull, Time, 11 Aug. 2021 Corporate leaders today have the challenge of envisioning how to renew the corporate-social contract in the twenty-first century so firms contribute in distinct, relevant ways to societal well-being. Christopher Marquis, Forbes, 3 July 2021 The relative quiet allowed Israelis to concern themselves with domestic issues like soaring prices, unaffordable housing, overcrowded roads and hospitals, and a social contract in dire need of renegotiation. New York Times, 13 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'social contract.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of social contract

1660, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for social contract

Time Traveler

The first known use of social contract was in 1660

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Dictionary Entries Near social contract

social construct

social contract

social control

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Statistics for social contract

Last Updated

11 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Social contract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for social contract

social contract

so·​cial contract

Legal Definition of social contract

: an actual or hypothetical agreement among individuals forming an organized society or between the community and the ruler that defines and limits the rights and duties of each

More from Merriam-Webster on social contract Encyclopedia article about social contract


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