A Mixed Social Structure of Tribal Community in Modern Socioeconomic Context: A Participatory Rural Appraisal of Mlabri Community, after Settlement at Bokluea, Nan Province, Thailand


  • Norachat Wongwandee Natural Resource Management and Royal Project Foundation and King’s Recommended Project Supporting Center. King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Bangkok Thailand
  • Krissanapong Kiratikara King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Sasitorn Suwannathep Liberal Art, King Monkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Passanan Assavarak Liberal Art, King Monkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Boosya Bunnag Natural Resource Management, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Bangkok, Thailand


Mlabri tribe, socioeconomic context, settlement


Equilibrium of social structure and socioeconomic context is a sign of community well-being, which, in turn, the community must keep adapting through the changes to sustain it. This article presents a study of the adapted socioeconomic structure of Mlabri-Phufa, a nomadic tribe who settled down in Phufa sub-district for about a decade under the care of Phufa Development Center. Mixed methods were used to collect data from the majority of the tribe. During 2015 – 2018, around a decade since the first settlement. Mlabri-Phufa adapted to the modern socioeconomic system by combining the nomadic patriarchy system with an agrarian matriarchy community structure to obtain the well-being of their community in the Thai social context. With agriculture skills and modern education, Mlabri is above the poverty line. Mlabri-Phufa elected community committees to deal with conflicts from within and outside the community; the concept of land and territory; oblige to the agreements with a neighboring community. Consumption behavior changed considerably due to more sources of income. However, hunting and gathering remain integral activities supporting the household economy and sustaining identity. Mlabri's mixed structure of the senior and committee in the current socioeconomic system exemplify the possibility of cultural adaptation that leaps from primitive tribes to citizenship in a few generations.


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