SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Turton, Andrew (1975) Northern Thai Peasant Society: A Case Study of Jural and Political Structures at the Village Level and Their Twentieth Century Transformations. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (284MB) | Preview


This is a study of the peasant sector of Northern Thailand. It attempts to describe and theorize political and jural aspects of village communities of predominantly wet rice agricultural producers. Three main approaches are used concurrently. First there is the productiom of a body of data, mostly assembled during fieldwork (1969-1070) conducted by the method of individual social-anthropological participant observation. Empirical observation focused mainly on a cluster of three villages (population c. 3,000), within which more detailed surveys were made, and beyond which research was also extended. Secondly a historical method is used. Two chronological periods are established for the fieldwork locality, approximately: 1910-1950 and 1950-1970. Changes between the two periods are recorded and the periods compared. Thirdly the historical materialist theory of modes of production is used to conceptualize a sector of a total social formation (society of Thailand) both synchronically and diachronically. These three approaches are discussed in the Introduction. In Part One village level social units and relations are first considered in their economic aspects, in particular changing social relations of production and the emergence of class differences within the peasantry. In Part Two the same empirical units are analyzed further in terms of their political and jural aspects, and ideological forms. Some emphasis is given to relations of exchange between households, the principal units of production, (including ritual exchanges, marriage, membership of matrilineal desert groups); to the position of ritually qualified elders; and to local communities, especially as defined by certain ideological structures: in spirit cults, and more notably in the congregaticxis of collectively owned Buddhist temples. Village level structures are set, empirically and theoretically, in the context of the lower levels of the state bureaucracy, especially village and district administration. Part Three considers In detail disputes and trouble cases (mainly among villagers and between villagers and the state), changing types and causes, and changing modes of settlement: self-help, ritual, and Juridical. The roles of elders, village headmen, and state officials (district police, provincial courts) in dispute settlement and in criminal cases are analysed. A number of cases is recorded, some extensively. Part Four presents the more abstract elements of peasant ideology, especially in its aspect as corpus juris, but also as religious representations and ideological forms of social relations.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:26

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item