Social Contract as a Noumenon: The Experience of Sociological Understanding

Social Contract as a Noumenon:
The Experience of Sociological Understanding

Toshchenko Zh.T.

Corresponding Member, Russian Academy of Sciences, Prof., Scientific Supervisor of the Faculty of Sociology of the Russian State University for the Humanities; Chief Researcher of the Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia

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This work is supported by the Russian Science Foundation (grant № 23-18-00093).

For citation:

Toshchenko Zh.T. Social Contract as a Noumenon: The Experience of Sociological Understanding. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2023. No 6. P. 3-15


The article characterizes the process of emergence in social cognition of social contract ideas, first put forward and substantiated by the Enlightenment thinkers. They formulated ideas about its essence and content interpreted as a social contract between the people and the state with the focus of attention on latent, implicit nature of this process. A significant place is given to analysis of existing theories of the social contract, tо identifying their features on the basis of diverse options of its interpretation and implementation in the modern scholarship. Particular attention is paid to the identifying main characteristics of the social contracts, its semantic essence as a unity of goals of their participants accentuating observance of mutual trust, coordination of interests, constant feedback. Modern interpretations of the social contract are discussed, as well as attempts to offer new options for understanding practices of its implementation in current socio-political life. It is emphasized that the social contract as a noumenon contains not only obvious, but also latent criteria, expressing the constantly changing qualitative state of society and requiring regular customizable interaction between the people and the state.

social contract; state; society; people; public consciousness; trust; consent; compromise; consensus


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Content No 6, 2023