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The issue of freedom has featured in different discussions and studies, both in the past and presently. In line with this, researchers as well as scholars have focused their energies on defining freedom from different perspectives and how it can be provided in the society. Among these scholars and researchers are Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Locke. Note that Rousseau and Locke pursue different perspectives in their definition and provision of freedom. Essentially, Rousseau focuses on social contract as a way of attaining freedom in the society whereas Locke examines the issue of freedom from the government's perspective.
To begin with, Rousseau examined the issue of freedom by focusing on the ability of people to make choices that they all agree with in the society. In other words, he defined freedom as the ability of people to make informed choices regarding their government. In this respect, Rousseau and Cole (2003) argue that "election by lot is democratic in nature" (75). In other words, freedom is only attained when people make their own choices regarding how they want to be guided in the society. In reference to Krahmann (2010), the core mechanisms that serve to prevent power abuse of political and military power is the democratic notion that the Social Contract is a contract among citizens rather than between the citizens and a sovereign.
Apart from allowing citizens to make informed choices about their lives as well as the about their government as a way of enhancing freedom, Rousseau also asserts that freedom is attained when citizens participate in the formulation of rules, regulations and customs that guides them on daily basis when living in a particular society. In this respect, laws that govern the society towards defining and forming certain customs should include the citizens in making them. For instance, laws that govern the society by helping to prevent certain vices such as violence, fraud and theft as well as negligence must be formed by the people for one to argue that that particular society or rather individuals in that particular society has freedom.
The issue of freedom and social contract has been elicited in many ways in the contemporary world. For instance, countries or rather societies that were forced to accept government rule that they did not choose experienced violence and other vices that were against the acceptable customs that had been set in that particular society. This is founded on the fact that lack of autonomy to make informed choices among citizens in a particular society regarding their government as well as the customs they wish to be guided by often leads to inequality (Rousseau and Cole 77). This inequality cannot coexist with freedom in such a particular society. Simply stated, freedom according to Rousseau and from a social contract perspective is driven or rather achieved when people actively involve themselves in the government as well as in formulating laws and regulations that governs their customs.
On the other hand, John Locke believed that freedom could only be attained when a group of people in the society are given power and authority to make laws on behalf of others, whereas they themselves are subject to these laws. In addition to this, Locke (2004) argues that the "government has no other end but the preservation of property". In other words, apart from ensuring that the laws that have been formulated are followed, the government has no other duty to fulfill in the society. As a result, freedom is when the government fulfils its duties of preserving property. Furthermore, when these groups of people make laws to govern the society as well as be subject to these laws, then that is freedom.
For instance, most government across the globe have embraced Locke's notion of freedom by electing a few people in the society who are supposed to formulate laws that would govern them. In this regard, the United States has the Congress, Britain and Australia has the parliament, etc. Researches and studies that have been carried out on different forms of government indicate that these nations have different arms of government that plays different roles in the society. For example, most of them have the legislative and executive arm of government. These constitute two different entities that play different roles.
In contrast with Rousseau, Locke focuses on a group of people in the society being given power and authority to make laws that govern the society. Note that these people themselves are subject to these laws. On the contrary, Rousseau's arguments are inclined towards allowing the whole society or rather individuals in the society to participate in the process of determining the customs and laws that would govern them. Rousseau arguments for freedom were inclusive of every person in the society. However, Locke's argument focuses on giving a few people or groups of people the authority to determine the customs and laws they would like to be guided by. Under this argument, all people would be subject to the law. More importantly, Locke's version of freedom is characterized by a separation of people in the society, in the sense that the elite are given opportunities to make laws whereas the rest of the people are forced to adhere to the laws that have been made. On the other hand, Rousseau affirms that freedom is provided to every citizen in the society when there are no demarcation marks that separate different groups of people.