What would happen if an unknown society on an unknown island was suddenly discovered these days? This is the classical thought experiment which the proponents of the world-polity approach use to introduce their research perspective to a wider audience (cf. Meyer et al. 1997: 145f.). It was most likely, they then further contend, that highly standardized, rationalized and formalized structures of social organization would rapidly be implemented on this island, based on existing prototypes of ‘modern’ nation-states. Moreover, globally recognized models of social development would immediately spread to the unknown island via associational processes, provoking substantial restructuring of existing institutions, cultural practices and traditions in accordance with these models. Consequently, ‘modern’ citizenship principles, ‘modern’ educational programmes and other development programmes would be enforced and all types of standard data on the socio-economic, or the ecological, development of this island would be collected. In short, the unknown island would immediately become the object of constant assessments and concerted international efforts of ‘planned intervention’ in order to integrate this unknown territory as quickly as possible into the existing ‘community’ of modern nation-states.