Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Du Contrat social; ou, Principes du droit politique [The Social Contract]

(3352 words)
  • Kevin Inston (University College London)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote the Social Contract (1762) in a period of great intellectual and social change. The beginning of the century was marked by the reign of Louis XIV, the model of the absolute, autocratic monarch and the end (ten years after Rousseau’s death) by the unprecedented event of the French Revolution of 1789, which caused the demise of the French monarchy and the rise of democracy as sovereign power became identified with the will of the people. Rousseau’s work forms part of the socially critical and progressivist literature which we now call Enlightenment writing. Enlightenment writing, published under and against the Ancien régime, could not of itself have produced revolutionary change, but did …

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Inston, Kevin . "Du Contrat social; ou, Principes du droit politique". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 September 2011
[, accessed 27 September 2016.]