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Social Contract in the French Revolution

One of the most significant contributions linked to the French Revolution can be disclosed through propaganda messages and the gospels of insurgency. This eventually means that the French Revolution became a crucial historical event that transformed France and brought liberty to the French land. Based on the information presented by Coffin et al. (2011), it can be stated that the majority of efforts were too radical, but the societal change was real. Numerous modern ideas of governance were born during the French Revolution, allowing the insurgents to discover how civilians could oppose the idea of viable transformation (Baker et al., 1987). Regardless of the dictatorial methods of the revolutionaries and the resistance displayed by the French, the Revolution occurred, leaving all the contradictions behind. The meaningful nature of the French Revolution was preserved irrespective of the violence and the desire to reject the legacy of authoritarian ideologies (Thierry, 1859). With the inherent inequality and high-scale rejection efforts, the call for liberty was a rational outcome of the French Revolution that motivated people to achieve fundamental individual rights. Thus, the Revolution legitimized equality and provided a lesson for the next generations of the French.

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Another important subject covered in Coffin et al.’s (2011) Chapter 18 is the development and deployment of the French Declaration, where it was claimed that all men were born equal and free. From government positions to fiscal equity, the Declaration covered most of the problematic areas of human lives while noting that liberty was one of the fundamental principles of men’s existence. In a sense, the growing impact of oppression and insecurity stemmed from the need to resist the regime and help the Third Estate gain a louder voice (Thierry, 1859). With more attention being paid to the fundamental nature of human beings, the French revolutionaries created an environment where they could advocate for imperceptible, sacred rights. The notion of equality was not validated right away because there was a privileged minority that was not always keen on including social equality in the Declaration (Coffin et al., 2011). Equal freedoms were discussed as one of the central elements of proper protection against discrimination. According to Baker et al. (1987), this was an important step for the Third Estate due to the reduced exposure to privileges and an emphasis on freedoms.

The ultimate topic of discussion that has to be covered when discussing the French Revolution is the social contract. Consistent with Rousseau (2008), the laws should be created through the interface of the general will since citizens should experience individual freedom and the right to equality. Coffin et al. (2011) noted that the form of government resulting from the French Revolution perfectly grasped the function of enforcing laws. In other words, the functioning of the state depended on the virtues and the drawbacks of the general population and not the elite minority. Thus, the social contract is bound to function under any given form of rule, from aristocracy to monarchy or democracy (Rousseau, 2008). It was claimed Rousseau (2008) that the social contract was required to establish a steady government that would rarely contradict the people’s general will. Unanimity and sovereignty should be considered imperative for a complete, healthy government. The French Revolution became a means of mediating the conflict between the government and the sovereign via a broader skirmish that resulted in fundamental social transformations.


Baker, K. M., Boyer, J. W., & Kirshner, J. (Eds.). (1987). The Old Regime and the French Revolution (vol. 7). University of Chicago Press.

Coffin, J. G., Stacey, R. C., Cole, J., & Symes, C. (2011). Western civilizations: Their history & their culture (Vol. 1). WW Norton.

Rousseau, J. J. (2008). The social contract and the first and second discourses. Yale University Press.

Thierry, A. (1859). The formation and progress of the Tiers État: Or Third Estate in France. HG Bohn.

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