contractualism

an approach to social and moral theory which understands the state and the rule of law in terms of a reputed agreement between the individual and society, by which certain potential individual freedoms are sacrificed for the mutual benefits which flow from such a 'contract'. It features in the work of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and informs the work of more modern theorists such as John Rawls. Its influence can be seen in approaches to behaviour management such as school students being involved in drawing up their own school and classroom rules, and more overtly in disciplinary approaches which involve individuals signing contracts regarding their future behaviour.