Elgar Advanced Introductions are stimulating and thoughtful introductions to major fields in the social sciences and law, expertly written by the world's leading scholars. In this Advanced Introduction, one of the world's leading private law scholars takes the reader on an intellectual journey through the different facets and dimensions of the field, from the family home to Kuta Beach and from Thomas Piketty to Nina Hagen. This concise book provides an accessible and fresh introduction to private law, presenting the topic as a unified whole of which the main branches - on contract, tort, property, family and inheritance - are governed by conflicts between individual autonomy and countervailing principles. The book stands out as a unique account of how private law allows individuals to optimally flourish in matters of economy, work, leisure, family and life in general. Key features include: * succinct yet engaging and highly informative overview of private law, aimed at an audience of specialists and non-specialists alike * written in a clear and engaging style * ample attention to the policy choices behind the rules * examples from a wide range of jurisdictions across Europe, the UK and the US * places private law in its larger economic and societal context * addresses the potential and limits of private law in dealing with global societal challenges, such as economic inequality, the fair use of resources and protecting future generations * considers how the field could develop in the future. Engaging and wide-ranging, this is an excellent introduction for students and academics new to the field and allows practitioners to quickly master the core principles behind private law.