At a time when sufficiency has come to the forefront of the political agenda in connection with the energy crisis, this Issue Brief proposes to mobilize the social contract notion to better understand the current crises in our societies, and the counterparts that must be mobilized for a new prosperity, starting from today’s society and the findings of human and social sciences.

Key Messages

  • The different visions of a desirable future have led to numerous proposals for making lifestyle sufficiency compatible with well-being, implicitly and partially defining new social contracts (e.g. carbon quotas) based on ecological limits.
  • These supply-side approaches to social change should be complemented by a better understanding of the current crises facing our social contracts, which are leading to gridlocks for society in general and for the transition policies aiming to achieve a sufficient society, which could otherwise appear to be the cause of social problems.
  • The social contract concept is useful for considering the diverse aspects involved in understanding the promises at the heart of our societies and the dependencies between social (emancipation, dignity), political (rights) and economic (value sharing, redistribution) spheres, and to identify pathways for policy action.
  • The intention is not so much to define a theoretical new social contract as a precondition for the transition, but more about working on new forms of social contract, the method and space for thinking through the conflicts and organizing the negotiations and arrangements necessary for its implementation, in addition to other frameworks and visions for organizing a sustainable future.
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