The failure of the social contract in Iraq: Iraqi perspectives

Lucia Ardovini, Dylan O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


This article focuses on the failure of the post-2003 social contract in Iraq. It relies on extensive primary data collected in all of Iraq's 19 provinces through focus groups. It develops an analytical framework based on five core elements (corruption, services, security, economy, and governance), that can be applied to the assessment of the state of a social contract. The article argues that the steady decline of the social contract has fueled Iraqis’ resentment and discontent with the ruling elites and inspired their calls to move beyond sectarian divides toward addressing the most pressing issues facing Iraq.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-433
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Issue number4
Early online date19 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The fieldwork for this publication was made possible through support provided by the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), Iraq.


  • Social contract
  • Iraq
  • governance
  • society


  • Governance, Leadership and Trust
  • Peace and Conflict
  • Social Movements and Contentious Politics


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