International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law Online

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I. Contract Law in Pre-Commercial Societies
(6,425 words)

Volume VII: Contracts in General | Chapter 2 (1997): Contract in Pre-Commercial Societies and in Western History

Completed in January 1995

James Gordley

A. The Nature of Personalized Contract Law

1. IntroductionDiscrete and personalized transactions. – In Western contract law, the reference point for determining the obligations of the parties is a discrete transaction between them, i.e. the contract. Anthropologists have described such transact…

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James Gordley, “I. Contract Law in Pre-Commercial Societies”, in: International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law Online, Edited by: U. Drobnig, R. David, H. H. Egawa, R. Graveson, V. Knapp, A. T. Von Mehren, Y. Noda, S. Rozmaryn, V. M. Tschchikvadze, H. Valladão, H. Yntema, K. Zweigert. Consulted online on 07 June 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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