Fraternal Social Contract

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 4
Words: 1000
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Bachelor


Various theories have been advanced by political scientists in their attempts to describe the best forms of governance. A number of philosophers have therefore been fore front in advocating for a number of theories through which the state can function in the governing of people. Chief among these have been the social contract theories that have been developed by many philosophers. Through the social contract theories the philosophers intended to come up with a democratic society. The social contract thus is a collection of theories and contributions by many thinkers over the nature of governance that was best fitting for humans. As result the social contract advocates for the formation of a community in which people come together and agree on forming a government.

Fraternal Social Contract

The fraternal social contract is the theory that provides for the formation of a community in which the members of the society surrender their individual rights in exchange to civil liberties. However the fraternal social contract normally tends to be sexist in its provisions (Gatens, 1996). This is mainly because the theory focuses on men at the expense of women in the society. The so called contract is an agreement between men and the government to cede some of the individual rights in exchange of civil liberties. Therefore in the context the fraternal a social contract there is no role of women in the political affairs of the state (Lacey & Frazer, 1993). Women are reduced to their domestic roles and have no say in the decisions that affect the society at large. As result the fraternal social contract instance reserve of men and guarantees male hegemony in the society.

Embodiment in Community Formation

The fraternal social contract calls for the formation of a community through which governance the society is governed. The formation of a society is the major pillar in the social contract theory. The contract so made by the society is made by a group which from a community. Each individual in the community surrenders some of his rights so as to obtain the protection of the state. However in case one violates the laws so made then he loses the protection of the state. Embodiment figures out in the whole aspect of the formation of the community. This happens since political body made is an embodiment of the will of the people. The government exercises the will of the people and as such represents their wishes (Pateman, 1989). The social contract by all means is a symbol of collectivism; virtually everything in the social contract is an embodiment of the people and their wishes. In fact the very formation of a community through which the social contract becomes effective embodies the very intents of the people to surrender their personal wishes in exchange of the protection of the state.

Exclusion of Women

The fraternal social contract practices total exclusion of women from the affairs of the society and state. First and foremost this exclusion is achieved through the male dominance which is advocated by the theory (Rousseau, 1968). The social contract made between the individuals and the state is only founded by men. Women play no role at all in the whole process. As a result the exclusion of women is achieved by reducing their role to domestic chores while men are free to participate in the affairs of the state. As such the fraternal social contract empowers men alone and guarantees their civil liberties and freedoms while women remain virtual prisoners in homes. The contract only recognizes the participation and role of men and it is the men who take up the roles of leadership in the society and state (Rose, 1999).

Feminists Interpretations of Community

The fraternal social contract has been under so much criticism by feminists for its favours of men. Under normal circumstances the status of women in society is lower and they are always refrained from the affairs of the state due to their natural position. By the natural state of affairs women are not considered equal to men due to a number of factors. This has made it a reserve of men as far as the formation of the community and the political affairs of the state (Goodwin & Finkelstein, 2005). As a result, feminists have found the social contract to be highly in favour of men since all the freedoms and liberties accrued from such a dispensation are enjoyed exclusively by men. The natural order of events puts the woman in total subordination to the man. The domestic roles are seen as a woman’s domain and the social and political affairs are left to the men. Feminists advocate for a community that will free women and make them play a greater role in the whole affairs of the society and state.


The fraternal social contract advocates for the formation of a community through which individuals surrender their personal rights in exchange of civil liberties. As a result people chose to do away with their rights so as to obtain the protection of the state. It is deemed as the best approach to good governance where focus is put on the needs and wishes of the people. The state then comes up with laws through which to administer the subjects. However the most outstanding aspect of the theory is the guarantee of social liberties and freedom. Under this framework, every one in the society is perceived equal and free. However feminist have strongly criticized the contract approach to the community and aspects of governance. Feminist often advocate for a society in which the equality and freedom of women is guaranteed. The feminists argue that the social contract derives its origin and application from the natural order of things which is greatly in the favour of men. Women are excluded since they are left to play domestic roles. Subordination makes women to play no role at all in the affairs of the state and as such is considered neither equal nor free.


  1. Gatens, M. (1996). ‘Embodiment, ethics and difference’, Imaginary Bodies: Ethics, Power and Corporeality. London: Routledge, 1996.
  2. Goodwin, S. & Finkelstein, J. (2005). ‘Community’, The Sociological Bent: Inside Metro Culture. Victoria; Thomson.
  3. Lacey, N. & Frazer, E. (1993). ‘The communitarian critique of liberalism’, The Politics of Community: A Feminist Critique of the Liberal-Communitarian debate. New York: Harvester Wheatshearf, 1993.
  4. Pateman, C. (1989). ‘The Fraternal Social Contract’, The Disorder of Women: Democracy, Feminism and Political Theory. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989.
  5. Rose, N. (1999). ‘Community’, Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  6. Rousseau, J. (1968). ‘Extract’, The Social Contract. London: Penguin, 1968.