in: World Development, 4 May 2020 (online first)
The term “social contract” is increasingly used in social science literature but is rarely well operationalised. We define social contracts as sets of agreements between societal groups and their sovereign on rights and obligations toward each other. The notion of social contracts helps to compare state-society relations in different countries and at different times. After independence, MENA countries had similar social contracts, which were then challenged by the Arab uprisings in 2010-11. Since then, social contracts in MENA countries have developed in different directions.