The social contract theory throws light on the origin of the society. According to this theory all men are born free and equal. Individual the classical representatives of this school of thought are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and J.J. Rousseau.
The three of them thought in various ways that before the existence of civil society men lived in a sort of pre-social state, called the state of nature and in virtue of a contract among themselves, society came into existence. The essence of their argument is as follows.
Thomas Hobbes an English thinker was of the opinion that society came into being as a weapon for the protection against the consequences of their own nature. Man in the state of nature was in perpetual conflict with his neighbours on account of his essentially selfish nature.
To quote Hobbes the life of man was “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. Every man was an enemy to every other man. Hobbes in his book “Leviathan” has made it clear that man is in the state of nature was not at all social.
According to him man found “nothing but grief in the company of his fellows” –at all being almost equally selfish, self-seeking carrying egoistic brutal and aggressive. Thus men in the state of nature were like hungry wolves each ready to pounce of on the other with all its ferocity.
Since the conditions in the state of nature were intolerable and men longed for peace the people entered into a kind of contract to ensure for themselves security and certainty of life and property.
By mutual agreement they decided to surrender their natural rights hi to the hands of a few or one with authority to command the convenient or agreement was of each with all and all with each. The covenant was, of course, a social contract and a governmental.
The contract binding on the whole community as perpetual social bond. Thus in order to protect himself against the evil consequence of his own nature man organized himself in society in order to live in peace with all.
John Locke, the British writer who supported the cause of limited monarchy in England, maintained in his “On Civil Government” that the “ill condition” in which men were forced to live was “full of fears-and continual dangers”.
In order to escape from this and to gain certainty and security men made a contract to enter into civil society or the state. This contract Locke called social contract. The contract put an end to the state of nature and substituted it by civil society.
The social contract was no more than a surrender of certain rights and powers so that man’s remaining rights would be protected and preserved.
The contract was for limited and specific purposes, and what was given up or surrendered to the whole community and not to a man or to an assembly of man (as Hobbes said) Locke made it clear that the social contract latter on contributed to the government control.
The governmental contract was made by the society when it established a government and was made by the society when it established a ruler to remove the inconveniences of “ill-condition”.
J.J. Rousseau, the French sociologist of the 18th century, in his famous book “The Social Contract” (1762) wrote that man in the state of nature was ‘noble savage’ who led a life of ‘primitive, simplicity and idyllic happiness’.
He was independent, contented, self-sufficient, healthy, fearless and good. It was only primitive instinct and sympathy which united him with others.
He knew neither right nor wrong and free from all notions of virtue and vice. Man enjoyed a pure unsophisticated, innocent life of perfect freedom and equality in the state of nature. Rousseau argued men were free from the influence of civilization, and sought their own happiness uncontrolled by social laws and social institutions.
But these conditions did not last long. Population increased and reason was dawned. Simplicity and idyllic happiness disappeared, families were established, institution of property emerged and human equality was ended, man began to think in terms of “mine” and “thine”. Difference between stronger and weaker, rich and poor, arise.
When equality and happiness of the early state was lost, murder, conflicts, wretchedness etc. became the order of the day. The escape from this was found in the formation of civil society.
Natural freedom gave place to civil freedom by a social contract. As a result of this contract a multitude of individuals became a collective unity in a civil society. Rousseaue said that by virtue of this contract everyone while uniting himself to all, remains as free as before”.
On the basis of above analysis it is clear that society.originates as a result of social contract among the people.