A second component of the analytical framework This study facilitated examination of 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. Researchers examined whether and how core conflict issues CCIs were addressed through these “social contract-making” spheres and mechanisms.

In addition to “peacemaking”, other 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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