This article reexamines accounts of Mien (Yao) ethnic minority populations in northern Thailand, in particular generalizations about social structure in terms of household formations. Two ethnographic accounts from the same province of Thailand during the 1960s suggest opposite tendencies in Mien household dynamics, but each makes a case for Mien society. This restudy proposes that the dynamics of the 1960s were largely specific to engagements with the regional political economy and a reworking of social relations, which led to the prominence of the household in social life. These dynamics were in and of the twentieth century, and this article draws on a contrast with the two generations immediately prior to what the ethnographies describe to situate households in relation to the shape of Mien social formations.

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