- It is a kind of society capable of forming a stable government or polity.
- It may have a unified world government or be a balkanized collection of nation-states or other political groupings.
- It is an astronavigational term.
Eventually, one nation-state achieves dominance and slowly absorbs the smaller polities at which point a planetary or world government is formed. Globalization and the ever-increasing interconnectedness of the world often cause the nation state to disappear.
- Some world-states are not true world-states, they still have balkanized governments and cannot form a unified world policy. They still function in effect as unified world-states but lack the political power or negotiating power to deal with larger interstellar entities effectively.
Key Identifier Characteristics
Obviously there is a large continuum of government types and functionalities for a world-state. The more effective world-states form unified policies for planetary and extraplanetary relations.
Unified Policy & Unified Governance
Typically unified policy necessitates a unified government, but some sophont species such as the Hivers are able to achieve unified policy without a conventional government. Hivers are near unique amongst the major races of Charted Space in this regard.
For most sophont species, an outside influence typically precludes planetary unification. Often this involves a First Contact scenario with an exospecies. Although many other scenarios are possible.
Major Race Experiences
The K'kree, for instance, were largely motivated to form their first world-state by a competing sophont species while the Aslan were more motivated by climatological change, and their idea of a unified political presence is very different than many other sophont species.
The Terrans, on the other hand, fit a more conventional model, not truly unifying in an effective form until being threatened by the Ziru Sirka of the Vilani people, an exospecies of the same race even. And even then, the later Rule of Man still largely remained a faction of squabbling factors.
Standard Polity Growth Sequence
- Proto-Society → Band Society → Tribal Society or Chiefdom → City-State → Nation-State → World-State → Pocket Empire → Interstellar State → Intergalactic State → Final State → Singularity