Institutional Spheres & Mechanisms of Social Contract Making

Institutional Spheres & Mechanisms of Social Contract Making2018-06-12T20:50:44+00:00

This study considers how commitments in the “peacemaking” sphere at the national, political level (e.g. through a peace agreement) are linked to, and addressed in other spheres (transitional, governance, the everyday) and through related mechanisms. Examining how CCIs are addressed through these “social contract-making” spheres and mechanisms guides insight into how a resilient social contract is forged, with greater inclusion of society in both the process and results.

These spheres and related mechanisms can be defined as: “transitional” (i.e. sequenced dialogues, commissions, truth and reconciliation processes); “governance,” including both “official” (i.e. codified structures of government, formal institutions, national development plans, devolution frameworks/policies) and “hybrid” (i.e. where religious/ customary/ non-state actor and state mechanisms interact; and in the “everyday” sphere (i.e. citizen actions, practices, norms, mores). The everyday sphere also acts, in this study, as a litmus test to ascertain whether higher level, formalised agreements or processes effectively represent wider societal views.

Related Report: Reconceptualizing the Social Contract

This working paper makes a case for rethinking the social contract concept in the contemporary era, in countries affected by conflict and/or fragility. Inspired by policy efforts to rethink the concept as a means to better address the challenges of peacebuilding and statebuilding, the paper aims to theoretically ground the topic and offer a heuristic framing that supports the evolution of scholarship, policy and practice.

Institutional spheres and mechanisms should be cited as such: McCandless, Erin. 2018. “Reconceptualizing the Social Contract in Contexts of Conflict, Fragility and Fraught Transition.” Working Paper, Witwatersrand University.

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