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 In the bubble that is his program, Tucker won’t worry too much about the social contract between college football and those who love it. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football and Mel Tucker can treat this season like a free play," 9 Oct. 2020 The betrayal of whiteness was now firmly understood not as a repudiation of biology, or even culture, but of a particular kind of social contract. Hari Kunzru, The New York Review of Books, "The Wages of Whiteness," 8 Sep. 2020 Implicit in India's lockdown was the social contract that governments and citizens have entered into worldwide: short-term economic sacrifices in exchange for the public health benefit of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Fortune, "India tried to tame COVID-19 by sacrificing its economy. It got the worst of both worlds instead," 1 Sep. 2020 The prevailing social contract, in which Lukashenko retains power in return for economic and socio-political stability, is clearly fractured, perhaps beyond repair. Casey Michel, The New Republic, "Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarusian Dictatorship Is Going Down in Flames," 10 Aug. 2020 Dunham’s immersive methods highlight the importance of establishing a social contract in this field, especially, in order to accurately and ethically represent community perspectives through a collaborative effort. Courtney Sexton, Smithsonian Magazine, "Help Transcribe Field Notes Penned by S. Ann Dunham, a Pioneering Anthropologist and Barack Obama’s Mother," 15 July 2020 Their sacrifice came with an implicit social contract—that the government would use the valuable time to mobilize an extraordinary, energetic effort to suppress the virus, as did the likes of Germany and Singapore. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "How the Pandemic Defeated America," 3 Aug. 2020 For now, a thin social contract holds the network together, as anyone snipping the global internet is hurting themselves, too. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "How Spies Could Steal Our Data From an 8,000-Mile Undersea Cable," 25 June 2020 Even then, the social contract in Japan that trades loyalty for job security is so strong that breaking it would undermine a company's ability to recruit future talent. Kaori Enjoji, CNN, "Japan's job-for-life culture has survived war, earthquakes and now a pandemic," 30 June 2020

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

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The first known use of social contract was in 1660

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Statistics for social contract

Last Updated

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Social contract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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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

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