From the late nineteenth century to the present, social scientists and archaeologists have been intrigued by village-level corporate groups living under a single roof. Yet remarkably little is known ethnographically about the internal economic and social dynamics of these groups or why such groups emerge at certain time periods or places. My research focuses on some of the last indigenous corporate groups in mainland Southeast Asia. I document the advantages corporate organizations provide for members (mainly risk reduction), the high costs often involved for members, the range of status and wealth within such groups, and the probable motivations of individuals for organizing corporate groups. I contrast the communitarian models with aggrandizer models for the creation of corporate groups, but note considerable variability within the corporate residential phenomenon. I postulate that residential corporate groups were probably much more widespread in the Neolithic and Metal Ages of Southeast Asia than historically was the case.


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pp. 1-23
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