South Africa's Vaccine Roll-Out and Its Potential Costs to Our Social Contract

Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 69 (173):64-85 (2022)
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Over the COVID-19 period, much attention has been paid to the governance relationship between citizens and the state. In this article, however, we focus on a feature that is less evident in the day-to-day living of the social contract: the relationship between citizens. Because this horizontal cohesion is critical to the social contract, we suggest that it should not be neglected, even amid a deepening crisis of state–citizen relations. Using the case of South Africa's vaccine roll-out as an illustration, we argue that certain kinds of state failures – failures in making complex fairness decisions, in treating citizens as equals when enacting these decisions, and in providing public justification for these decisions – risk dual damage to both citizen–state and citizen–citizen relations and so undermine an already fragile social contract.



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Heidi Matisonn
University of KwaZulu-Natal

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The Sexual Contract.Carole Pateman - 1988 - Ethics 100 (3):658-669.
Collective Responsibility and the State.Anna Stilz - 2011 - Journal of Political Philosophy 19 (2):190-208.

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