Meaning of Obligation: Types, and Examples

Meaning of Obligations – When talking about obligations, everyone must have heard it, from children to adults. In fact, the obligation is already very attached to the daily activities or activities carried out by the community. This obligation makes one realize that obligations must be done before rights. Basically, in every human being there will always be obligations followed by rights.

Rights and obligations are always side by side or can be said to be inseparable from each other. Although living side by side, but in everyday life it is necessary for everyone to do their obligations first. Obligations that are done with, good, true, and full of responsibility will bring rights. For example, a person who works in a company with a full sense of responsibility will get his rights as an employee, that is to get a wage or salary.

Therefore, obligations that are done to the maximum can increase the well-being for a person. In fact, the well-being can also be felt by the group. Obligations performed by a person are usually performed in accordance with the rules in force and the rules that have been agreed upon together.

Obligations that are already known by many people indicate that everyone already knows the obligations that must be done. For example, the obligation for students is to study, the obligation for citizens is to obey the applicable laws. So, it can be said that obligation is something that is very important for every human being who acts as a social being.

Without obligations, it will be difficult for a person to determine what activities should be done first. In addition, rights cannot arise if obligations do not exist. So, it is necessary for everyone to know their obligations in their lives. A person who does his duty will usually be more “regarded” by every member of society.

So, what exactly is meant by obligation? Below will discuss the meaning of obligations, types of obligations, and examples of obligations in everyday activities. So, read this article to the end, Reader.

Definition of Obligation

If interpreted in general, an obligation is an action that must be done by a person. Every action taken is a form of full responsibility for the problems that are happening, whether legally or morally. Therefore, obligations will always be attached to human life in doing social activities, starting from children to adults.

Meanwhile, in the Indonesian Language Dictionary (KBBI), obligation is (something) that is obligatory or something that must be implemented or a necessity. According to the definition of obligation from KBBI, it can be said that an obligation is a task or job that must be done and completed well.

We can see this act of obligation while still sitting on the school bench where a student has an obligation to study. Not only that, in the world of work, a task or job must be completed so as not to be scolded by the company’s leadership. So, never delay the action of obligations because it could harm yourself or others.

In addition, there are also other opinions that state that by performing an obligatory action, then we will acquire a right. For example, a student who has an obligation to study, so that a student can get good grades. Not only that, a person who fulfills an obligation can get rights as we can see in an employee of a company. Employees who have completed a job will earn a salary, so they can improve their well-being.

Understanding Obligations According to the Experts

In order to make it easier to understand the meaning of obligation, we will discuss the meaning of obligation according to the experts. The definition of obligation according to the experts is as follows.

Prof. RMT Sukamto Notonagoro

Prof. RMT Sukamto Notonagoro revealed that obligations are something that must be done by certain parties with a sense of responsibility and with principles that can be forcibly demanded by interested parties.

John Salmond

According to John Salmond, an obligation is something that a person must do and if he does not do something, he will receive sanctions.

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Frederick Pollock

Frederick Pollock said that an obligation is the same as a duty and in the legal sense, an obligation is something that can be legally binding between two or more people.

Types of Obligations

An obligation which is an action that must be done and completed has several types. According to George Nathaniel Curzon, obligations are divided into five types, namely absolute obligations, public obligations, positive and negative obligations, general and specific obligations, and primary obligations.

Absolute Obligation

An absolute obligation is an obligation that a person must do to himself and is not related to rights and without having to associate the rights of other parties. One example of an absolute obligation is a person who is obliged to perform the worship that he believes in. For religious people, performing worship is an obligatory thing, so it is necessary not to abandon worship.

Public Obligations

Public obligations are types of obligations related to public rights. Our public obligations are often in legal regulations where everyone must obey criminal laws and regulations. In addition, examples of public obligations can be done by obeying traffic signs when driving and building order in society.

Positive and Negative Obligations 

Positive and negative obligations are the obligations of a human being to do or not do something. In other words, positive obligation is a person’s obligation to intend to do something. While a negative obligation is a person’s obligation not to intend to do something.

An example of a positive obligation is that a person must report to the authorities when his rights have been taken by force. Meanwhile, an example of a negative obligation is not to commit acts of defamation even if the right has been taken.

General and Specific Obligations

General obligations are obligations aimed at all citizens who live and live in a country in general. Meanwhile, special obligations are types of obligations that are only performed or performed by some groups, such as those in the field of agreements or in the field of law.

An example of a general obligation is that all people must obey the rules of a country, either those who come to that country or those who already live in that country. An example of a special obligation can be seen in someone who has paid for goods or services from an agreement that has been agreed upon.

Primary Obligations

Primary obligations are obligations that can arise from someone’s actions or behavior that is not against the law. In other words, primary obligations are a type of obligation that is directly related to the regulations and laws that apply in a country. For example, the obligation to pay taxes and the obligation not to defame others.

In addition, primary obligations can arise due to actions or behavior against the law. We can see the example when someone has to pay a loss or a fine for an action that has been done.

Types of Obligations Based on Sources

Obligations also have several types based on their source, among them:

Legal Obligations

A legal obligation is an obligation that must be obeyed and if it is not done, it will be given legal sanctions that apply to a country. For example, a person or a company must pay taxes that are in accordance with the legal regulations that are in effect. Another example of a legal obligation is the obligation to pay a fine for actions that have been taken.

Moral Obligations

Moral obligations are obligations that are not connected to the law, but must still be obeyed and in their implementation must be done according to the condition of the person’s conscience. As for examples of moral obligations we can see or can do, such as helping people who are in difficult conditions, respecting parents or teachers, and others.

Types of Obligations Based on Form

The type of obligation is not only based on the source, but can be based on the form. Below will be explained the types of obligations based on form, namely:

Social Obligations

Social obligations are obligations that are more directed towards loyalty to things that can be accepted by a person collectively. If a person has agreed or agreed to an agreement or promise that has been made, then collectively that person has agreed to every condition that is already in the agreement and that person is obliged to fulfill every condition that exists.

Written Obligations

A written obligation is a type of obligation that has entered into an agreement or a contract, so that in the contract there is a legal bond that has bound the agreement between two or more parties. In this written obligation, everyone who is in the agreement must perform the obligations that have been written in the agreement.

In general, a legal contract or legal agreement contains the acceptance of an offer, offer, consideration of the value to be exchanged, and the intention to bind something into a legal agreement.

Political Obligation

Political obligation is the obligation that everyone has towards their political views. In other words, a person is free to determine his political choice because every political choice is not connected to the applicable law.

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Although it is not connected with legal regulations, but political obligations can be considered as one of the requirements of the society in complying with the legal regulations already applicable in a country. One of the examples of political obligations in Indonesia is participating in election activities.

Examples of Obligations

In order to make it easier to understand obligations, we need to know examples of obligations in everyday life. Examples of obligations in daily life are as follows.

Obligations as a Driver

1. Obey Every Traffic Sign That Happens

Drivers must obey every traffic sign in order to reduce the risk of accidents. Each traffic sign has its own meaning, so a driver must be able to understand the meaning of each traffic sign.

2. Wearing Protection When Driving

When driving there is always the possibility of an accident, so when driving we must use protection. In this case, when riding a motorbike, you must use a helmet and when driving a car you must use a safety belt .

Obligations in the Home Environment

1. Keeping the House Clean

For every member of the family, it is mandatory to keep the house clean so that the home environment becomes healthy and comfortable. Usually, to keep the house clean, each member of the family already has their own duties.

2. Save on electricity at home

Every member of the family must save electricity. By saving electricity, we are taking care of existing resources. Therefore, when you have finished using an electronic device, it is best to turn it off immediately, such as after using the washing machine, using the computer, watching TV, etc.

3. Obey Good Rules in the Family 

In a family, there must be rules that are in place, so every member of the family must obey every rule that is in place. Obeyed rules will increase harmony in a family. However, the rules that must be obeyed are good rules, not rules that can be harmful.

4. Helping the Elderly

To pour love into a family, a child can do it by helping parents. Parents will be happy when their children help them.

Obligations in the Community Environment

1. Not Disturbing Others

In everyday life, fellow human beings should not disturb each other, so that they can create peace and comfort in society. An act of disturbing others can make social life bad. In fact, it does not rule out the possibility of causing conflict.

2. Helping Others Who Are Experiencing Difficulties

The obligation in the next community is to help others when they are experiencing difficulties. A person who is given help will definitely be happy, so that the individual’s relationship with each other becomes more harmonious.

3. Mutual respect and appreciation for all people regardless of religion, race, tribe, and language

The community environment will be comfortable, good, and harmonious as long as each member of the community respects and appreciates each other. In doing acts of mutual respect and appreciation there is no need to look at the background of race, religion, tribe, and language.

Obligations in the School Environment

1. Respect Teachers and All School Staff

When a student enters the school environment, it is obligatory to respect the teacher. Not only teachers, but students should also respect the school staff. By respecting the teacher and all school staff will create a good relationship between students and teachers and school staff.

2. Keeping the School Environment Clean and Comfortable

Learning activities will be more comfortable when the school environment is clean, especially the cleanliness of the classroom. Maintaining the comfort and cleanliness of the school environment is an obligation for students, teachers, and school staff. To keep the environment clean, a picket schedule is usually given and there are janitors.

3. Collecting Tasks On Time

A student’s duty is to study, so every task given by the teacher should be collected on time. Tasks that are not collected on time can reduce the value and sometimes be punished by the teacher.

4. Following the Learning Process Well and Correctly

In the school environment, there must be something called teaching and learning activities. So that the knowledge given can be well received, then a teacher must use appropriate learning media. With the learning media, the students will easily accept the information that has been given by the teacher, so that good and true learning is created as well as effective and efficient.

5. Appreciating Students

In the school environment, not only the students respect the teachers and school staff, but the teachers and school staff must also respect the students regardless of the background and physical condition of the students. The existence of mutual appreciation and respect has a very positive impact on life in the school environment.


Duty is something that everyone should have. It is not just owned, but the obligation must be understood so that it can be done correctly and with a sense of responsibility. Obligatory actions performed by a person are generally performed based on the applicable law and have been agreed upon. In addition, in everyday life that is carried out in the community, obligations can work to solve problems and can give rise to rights.

Obligations will always change with age and role in society. For example, the older you get, the greater the responsibility and the obligations of a child will be different from the obligations of a father. Although obligations often change, but still obligations must be done before rights.