The most inclusive political unit of the Lur is the tribe, or il , which is composed of several genealogically distinct subtribes, each a federation of localized kinship groupings called an oulad. Oulad members trace descent through the male line, to an ancestor whose name has become the referent or label for the whole group. An oulad, in turn, is an aggregate of several migratory camp units or settled hamlets, the size of which varies from three to eight tent households. The tent household, composed of a husband and wife and their children, with a flock of sheep or goats, is the basic social and economic unit of the Lur.
Traditionally, each tribe is headed by a hereditary chief, or khan, who is recruited by a special oulad. Aided by an army of retainers, the khan ensures peace and security within his jurisdiction by maintaining a balance of power among the component subtribes, arbitrating potentially disruptive disputes that cannot be resolved at the local level, and representing the tribe in matters involving the state or the neighboring sedentary communities. The financial support of the khan's administrative apparatus is provided by an annual tax on grain and animals.