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Reimagining private law is a central endeavour at ACT, and spans across all the research lines. We seek, first, to understand the transformation of the world of private law itself, caused in part by changing conceptualisations of the basics of private law, its prevailing methods as well as its normative reorientation and growing importance in contemporary societies and in transnational settings. In this context, we pay specific attention to the effects of Europeanisation and globalisation on rules of (domestic) private law and the emergence of new understandings and justifications of the field. ACT research thus contributes to private law theory and contemporary legal thought. Second, we explore private law’s impact on, and constitutive role in, shaping societal questions and problems, amidst rising global inequality and an ever more acute environmental crisis. Adopting a pluralistic and contextual view, we analyse how different understandings of private law lead to different conceptualisations of the problems, as well as different possible answers to these problems. On the basis of our findings, we propose alternative ways of thinking about the roles, aims and effects of private law in society, at both a local and global level. 

Our work encompasses both general questions of theories, methods, and normative underpinnings of private law as well as specific inquiries into selected subject areas. In this, ACT is home to a wide-ranging and diverse set of approaches to the study of private law. Our projects retrace, for instance, changing functions of basic private law institutions in a historical-comparative perspective as well as questions of how original normative justifications of a specific doctrine are over the course of time turned into their opposite (‘perverse private law’). Furthermore, our work identifies gaps in legal protection due to the misalignment of norms deriving from national, European, and transnational levels of governance, amongst others in relation to new developments, such as the emergence of smart contracts or digital inheritances. At ACT, we seek to anticipate, and contribute to, possible developments and reimaginations of private law in order to improve societal goals, such as housing justice and, more broadly, the transition towards more sustainable and just economies and societies.