Social Contract Theory Discussion Questions

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Helping your high school students understand social contract theory can seem like a daunting task. Use these discussion questions to guide them in analyzing the theory as it applies to their own lives, American society, and the world.

Social Contract Theory Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions with your high school students to help them explore social contract theory in a meaningful conversation. Social contract theory includes both rights and responsibilities for citizens and government. In these questions, students can discuss all sides of social contracts. You may want to engage in a class discussion or provide a list of questions to student teams. Additionally, requiring students to craft a written response to one or more questions can serve as an excellent summative assessment.

Implicit and Explicit Social Contracts

  • Think through a day in your life and identify places in which you follow a set of general social standards of behavior. What are some examples of implicit social contracts that people follow daily?
  • Consider the rules and laws by which we must abide to participate in society. What are some examples of explicit social contracts that we must follow in order to live safely and peacefully in society?
  • How do implicit social contracts different among cultures and countries around the world? If a family moves from one country to another, should they adjust their behaviors according to the social contract of their new country or continue to ascribe to the social contract of their home country? Explain your reasoning.
  • Do you think it's necessary to follow implicit social standards? Why or why not?
  • Do you think that social contracts need to be updated based on cultural change? Why or why not? What happens when an explicit or implicit social contract needs to be changed? Who should decide these changes?

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