African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 392


Evaluating the social contract theoretical ideas of Jean Jacques Rousseau: An analytical perspective on the state and relevance to contemporary society

SHAAPERA, Simon Aondohemba
  • SHAAPERA, Simon Aondohemba
  • Department of Political Science, Federal University, Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 06 May 2013
  •  Accepted: 14 January 2015
  •  Published: 28 February 2015


This paper evaluates the social contract theory from the view point of Jean Jacques Rousseau and applies the relevance to contemporary society. It is found that the social contract theorists traced the origin of the state to a social contract by individuals after an experience from the state of nature. Rousseau’s state of nature initially guaranteed freedom and good life for the individuals until the institution of private property ushered injustices that called for an organized or civil society mainly to protect lives and property. He considered property as the root cause of moral corruption and injustice which made the individual to loose his freedom. Rousseau argues that property had to be controlled by the General Will which was the universal law that regained man’s freedom and liberty in the civil society. Incidentally, Rousseau’s ideas have been found relevant such that this paper recommends for its application to governance or administration of modern states. There should be willingness of the leaders, who are involved in this kind of contract with citizens, to ensure adequate provision of the basic needs and security for the citizens.


Key words: The State, social contract, theory, Jean Jacques Rousseau.