Early State, Developed State, Mature State: The Statehood Evolutionary Sequence

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Журнал: Social Evolution & History. Volume 7, Number 1 / March 2008 - подписаться на статьи журнала


The concept of the early state introduced by Henri J. M. Claessen and Peter Skalník appears to have been the last among the great epoch-making political-anthropological theories of the 60s and 70s of the last century (e.g., Sahlins [1960, 1963, 1968], Service [1962, 1975], Fried [1967, 1975]), which did more than just giving a new consideration of socio-political evolution, its stages and models. One may even say that these theories succeeded in filling the evolutionary gap between the pre-state forms and the state, which had formed by that moment in the academic consciousness due to the fact that the accumulated ethnographic and archaeological data could hardly fit the prior schemes1.

However it seems that in comparison with other ‘stage’ theories from the above-mentioned list the theory of the early state has a number of important advantages, especially concerning the view on social evolution in general and the evolution of statehood in particular. No wonder that Joyce Marcus and Gary Feinman (1998: 6) mention Claessen and Skalník among such scholars which do not believe in inevitability; they know that not every autonomous village society gave rise to a chiefdom, nor did every group of chiefdoms give rise to a state (see also Grinin 2007a)2.

In the theory of the early state it was fundamentally new and important from a methodological point of view to define the early state as a separate stage of evolution essentially different from the following stage, the one of the full-grown or mature state. ‘To reach the early state level is one thing, to develop into a full-blown, or mature state is quite another’ (Claessen and Skalník 1978b: 22). At the same time they (as well as a number of other authors) indicated quite soundly that not all early states were able to become and actually became mature ones (see e.g., Claessen and Skalník 1978a; Claessen and van de Velde 1987b; Shifferd 1987). Thus there was formed exactly an evolutionary sequence of statehood in the form of a two-stage scheme: the early state – the mature state. And that explained a lot in the mechanisms and directions of the political evolution. However, the former of these two stages of the evolution of statehood (the early state) has been studied rather thoroughly, whereas the latter (the mature state) has not become the subject of a similarly close examination. Unfortunately, the analysis of the mature state has been little advanced in those several contributions to the subsequent volumes of the Early State project (further referred to as Project) where the subject was touched upon. In the present paper after a brief analysis of the Project participants' views on the mature state I will present my own approach to the distinction of the stages of the evolution of statehood which to my mind develops and supplements Claessen – Skalník's ideas on the subject. However, this has made it necessary to suggest new formulations of the main characteristics of each stage of the evolution of the state.

The differences of opinions
on the mature state

The differences between the early and mature states in Claessen and Skalník's opinion in general were described as the change of ideology and the system of relationships between power and population during the transition from one type of the state to another. According to them ‘the structure of the early state… [was] based principally upon the concept of reciprocity and genealogical distance from the sovereign’, and so the period of the early state terminates ‘as soon as the ideological foundation of the state no longer is based upon these concepts’. From Claessen and Skalník's analysis it follows that in the mature state the managerial and redistributive aspects became dominant. The mature state is based upon an efficient governmental apparatus and a new type of legitimation and ideology, based on a more complete law and political order or ‘a new myth of the society’ or something like that; besides, land as the basic means of production becomes an object of private ownership and the role of the owners of land and other means of production increases in the state (Claessen and Skalník 1978a: 633–634; see also Claessen 1984; Claessen and Oosten 1996b).

However, it is important to point out that in The Early State (Claessen and Skalník 1978d) the characteristics of the mature state were presented actually quite briefly as they were needed only to emphasize the characteristics of the early state3. Of course, it is quite clear why Claessen and Skalník did not set out to the task (and perhaps even simply could not do that) to give detailed characteristics of the mature state, for them it was most important to designate the ‘Beginning and End of the Early State’. But as this scheme was accepted neither by many participants of the Project nor from the outside, it seems necessary to point to the ambiguity and theoretical difficulties that originated from such a fragmentary analysis of the mature state. Apparently the notion of the mature state appeared to be quite clear to the participants of the Project. The analysis of their views on the subject, however, reveals rather considerable conceptual discrepancies4.

Besides Claessen and Skalník's efforts the phenomenon of the mature state was more or less thoroughly examined in the articles by Thomas Bargatzky and Patricia Shifferd (Bargatzky 1987; Shifferd 1987). To my mind, Bargatzky's analysis did not present any fundamentally new conclusions in comparison with those of Claessen and Skalník (1978a) and Claessen (1984), what Bargatzky acknowledges himself (e.g., Bargatzky 1987: 32). The value of Bargatzky's paper is that he examines the dialectics and dynamics of the interaction of the state system (suprasystem) and local autonomous structures (subsystems) in the mature and early states and also gives a more systematic list of characteristics of the mature state (Bargatzky 1987: 32).

In Shifferd's interpretation a number of features of the mature state seem considerably different from what they are in Claessen and Skalník's viewpoint. In particular, she points out that the mature state becomes a relatively autonomous structure, not identifiable with the individual, class, or even society as a whole (Shifferd 1987: 49), while Claessen and Skalník point out that the mature state becomes an instrument in the hands of the social class of the owners of land and other means of production (1978a: 634). But such a discrepancy is accounted for by the fact that Shifferd actually speaks about an absolutely different type of mature state than Claessen and Skalník do. In fact, Claessen and Skalník consider as a mature state any ancient or medieval state with a developed bureaucracy and a more or less developed legal system (Claessen and Skalník 1978a: 633–634), while Shifferd equates the mature state with the fully modern, ‘rational-legal’ one (Shifferd 1987: 48). At the same time she points out quite right that ‘in fact over the full scope of human history the forms of the Modern, rational-legal State developed in only one or two locations. This development in Europe was especially significant since it was associated with the emergence of capitalism’ (p. 49). But compare this statement with the examples of the mature states given by Bargatzky (actually quite disputable ones): Early Dynastic Ur (ca. 2600 BCE to 2400 BCE), south Indian Vijayanagara empire (1336 A.D. – 1565 A.D.), Aztec state, Inka state (Bargatzky 1987: 30–31), or with the more apt examples of Qin or Han in China, medieval France of the 12th–13th centuries that are used by other authors (e.g., Pokora 1978: 198–199; Claessen and Skalník 1978a: 634; Claessen 1985). Can they be called fully modern, rational legal states? Of course, they cannot.

Thus, although in general almost everybody who employs the term ‘mature state’ connects such a type of state with the presence of an effective bureaucratic apparatus, still with respect to the time of appearance of the mature state (and consequently of its specific characteristics) there are evident discrepancies which may be reduced to the two different viewpoints. The first is shared by the majority of scholars (including Claessen and Skalník) who employ the term with respect to the ancient and medieval as well as modern states5.

The second point of view is expressed by Shifferd (although quite unclearly) who thinks that mature states are primarily the European states of the Modern Age. To this point of view Ronald Cohen's position (1978: 35–36) is also rather close, although he does not use (at least in the cited paper) the notion of mature state, but in quite a definite way he opposes early states to the industrial ones (p. 36)6.

So the former viewpoint (Claessen, Skalník, Bargatzky et al.) proceeds from the point that mature states are the second and the highest stage of the state organization which appeared already in Antiquity and is present until now; the latter (Shifferd, Cohen) divides the whole evolution of the statehood into early states and modern states called at times mature, at other times industrial but which appear only starting from the industrial epoch or at least from the Modern Age. Note that this approach has something in common with the approach dividing states into archaic and modern nation-states that exists beyond the Project framework (see e.g., Marcus and Feinman 1998: 4–5)7.

It is important to point out that there is some truth in both viewpoints. On the one hand, the bureaucratic pre-industrial states of Antiquity and Middle Ages differ much from the weakly centralized ‘reciprocal’ early state based on the ruler's clan. And so an important boundary in the evolution of the statehood can be traced already from Egypt of the New Kingdom. On the other hand, it is evident, that the European rational legal states of the Modern Age and especially of the industrial epoch differed in the most profound way from the complex monarchies of Antiquity and Middle Ages (even from such developed empires as Sung and T'ang in China), which are called ‘mature states’ by some participants of the Project. It makes sense to cite the following statement by Max Weber:
‘In fact, the State itself, in the sense of a political association with a rational, written constitution, rationally ordained law, and an administration bound to rational rules or laws, administered by trained officials, is known, in this combination of characteristics, only in the Occident, despite all other approaches to it’ (Weber 1958: 15–16; see about Weber's views also Vitkin 1981: 448). And really, would not it be rather strange to assume that the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th century did not lead to the radical transformation of the state organization?

The fact is when we try to apply the scheme ‘early state – mature state’ to the evolution of the state in world history, it becomes evident that this scheme is in no way complete. So the sequence of two stages of the evolution of statehood must be re-examined and changed. Hence I think that it would be more correct to distinguish not two but three stages of statehood, namely after the stage called by Claessen and Skalník the mature state there must be inserted one more stage which would denote the type of industrial states (not only European but all the industrial states). However here comes the question of the name of this third stage. It would be better to introduce a new term for it. But which term? Supermature would sound awkward. So I came to the conclusion to keep the term mature state only for the industrial states and to define as developed states those pre-industrial bureaucratic centralized states that Claessen, Skalník and others call the ‘mature’ ones (see Grinin 2006a, 2006b, 2007b; Grinin and Korotayev 2006). Hence, we are dealing with the following sequence of three stages: early states; developed states; mature states8.

Early states are insufficiently centralized states. They organize politically societies with underdeveloped administrative-political and social structures.

Developed states are the centralized states of the Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern period. They organize politically societies with distinct estate-class stratification.

Mature states are the states of the industrial epoch. They organize politically such societies, where estates have disappeared, the bourgeois and working classes have formed, nations have developed, and representative democracy has proliferated9. Thus, according to this point of view, in the Antiquity and Middle Ages there were no mature states, but only early and developed ones10.

For each stage of statehood we can identify the following three types of the state: the primitive, typical, and transitional ones11. In the framework of this article the basic characteristics of the stages are identified on the basis of the middle phase of each stage (thus, respectively for typical early, typical developed, and typical mature states).

Main differences between the Early,
Developed, and Mature States12

Early states differ greatly from each other in many characteristics. However, if we try to understand what differentiates them from the developed and mature states, we find that early states are always incomplete states. There were numerous versions of early states, but within each of them some important elements of statehood were either absent, or significantly underdeveloped. In most cases this incompleteness was expressed in the most direct way, as most of the early states simply did not have the minimal necessary level of centralization or/and some significant statehood attributes, or did not develop them to a sufficient degree. This is especially significant with respect to such statehood attributes as professional administration, control and repression apparatus, taxation, territorial division, as well as a sufficiently high degree of written law. But this ‘incompleteness’ is also relevant with respect to the relations between the state and the society.

The developed state is a state that has been formed and completed, and centralized, that is why the attributes of statehood that could be absent within the political system of the early state are necessarily present within that of the developed one. The developed state influences social processes in a much more purposeful and active way. It is not only tightly connected with the peculiarities of the social and corporate structure of the society, but also constructs them in political and judicial institutes. In this respect it can be regarded as an estate-corporate state.

The mature state is a result of capitalist development and the industrial revolution; hence, it has a qualitatively different production basis and social structure and is based on a formed or forming nation with all its peculiarities. Such a state is qualitatively more developed in organizational and legal aspects, as well as with respect to specialized institutions of administration and control13.

The more detailed characteristics of the developed and mature states are presented below.

Developed State

I have formulated here the most important characteristics of the developed state that distinguish it from the early state14:

a) The developed state has more statehood attributes which in addition are more elaborated. The developed state possesses all the statehood features mentioned below in a rather clear and systematic form: a special professional administration/coercion apparatus separated from the population; regular taxation; and an artificial territorial division. Also it always has a written law and a special culture of written documentation, registration, and control. Taxation becomes more regular and ordered. Archaic duties and revenues (tribute, gifts, labour-rents, etc.) disappear, or play subordinate roles.

b) The developed state is an estate-corporative state. The social structure of the developed state becomes represented by large social groups and not by numerous tiny social layers or socio-territorial units (like autonomous cities or temples with special privileges) which are found in early states. Large ethnic groups develop instead of conglomerates of tribes and small peoples. As a result, society becomes socially sufficiently consolidated. With respect to states one cannot help but notice that the activities of a developed state are directed toward the legal shaping of estates, at making the society more stable, at ordering social mobility. On the other hand, both the state structure and its policies reflect the peculiarities of its social (and ethnic) arrangement; the state actively influences the social structure of society and acts as an intermediary between various estates/corporations.

c) The developed state is always a centralized state; generally, it is much more durable and stable than the early state. The developed state cannot be a political conglomerate, as was frequently the case with respect to early states. This is not just a set of territories that disintegrate as soon as the central power weakens. Of course, disintegration can be experienced by the developed states rather regularly (especially, during the transition from primitive to typical developed statehood). However, if the further development of such a state occurs, it is always connected with a new and tighter form of centralization within more or less the same territory. This is accounted for by the fact that the developed state is formed within a definite, historically prepared (both materially and culturally) territory with a common culture, ideology, and writing, and is supported by the development of communications, trade, a certain unification of money types, measures, law, and so on15.

d) In the developed state the social role of the state changes. The developed state, being an estate-corporative state with a stable social order, performs its role in the organization of coercion much more effectively than the early state. As the state itself takes the function of maintaining social order, it reduces the possibilities of the upper strata to solve themselves the problems of coercive support of their position (for example, through the prohibition for them to have their own armed forces).

e) The presence of a new type of state ideology and/or religion. Political ideology in the wide sense of this term develops instead of primitive ideas of royal power (based on notions of mythical ancestors, ‘the concept of reciprocity and genealogical distance from the sovereign’, royal supernatural abilities and so on). Confucianism in China provides a telling example here. However, such an ideology usually had certain religious forms (for instance, like the 16th century Russian treatment of Moscow as ‘the Third Rome’).

It is quite natural that different states entered the developed state phase in different ages. However, the indicated dates refer to the beginning of the transition into developed statehood, with the main transformations taking place later, sometimes much later. Egypt entered the developed state phase at the beginning of the Period of the New Kingdom in the 16th century BCE. China reached this stage as a result of its first unification in the late 3rd century BCE under Qin Shi Huang. Byzantium was a developed state from the very beginning, as it was the successor of the Roman Empire. By the 3rd century CE, Iran can already be regarded as a developed state with the consolidation of the Sassanid dynasty. France entered this phase in the late 13th century during the reign of Philip IV the Fair. England entered this phase in the late 15th century and the early 16th century (after the end of the War of the Roses and the Tudor dynasty coming to power). For many European countries the 16th century was a ‘period of state construction’ (Elliott 1974: 80). But this century also appeared to be a turning point for the political evolution of such countries as the Ottoman Empire, Russia, India and Iran (where we also observe the formation of the developed state).

Mature State

The first such states (France in the reign of Louis XIV) appeared in the late 17th century. Yet, only in the 19th century they became dominant in Europe and the New World. So in general, the mature state is a result of the development of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. In addition to this, the transition to the mature statehood is connected with the demographic revolution.

The main characteristics of the mature state:

a) it significantly surpasses the developed state with respect to the complexity and efficiency of its political organization and legal system;
it necessarily has a professional bureaucracy with its definite characteristics (see e.g., Weber 1947: 333–334), distinct mechanisms and elaborated procedures of the legitimate transition of power;

b) there are usually present worked out forms of constitutions and the division of powers, and the role of law (especially civil law) significantly increases. As a result one of the most important functions of the mature state is to secure not only the social order, but also the legal one, to which developed states often paid little attention;

c) it is based on a modern type of nation (or a set of nations), that is why it can only exist within a society with a unified national (or supranational) culture (about the tight relations between the nation and the state see e.g., Gellner 1983). That is why such a state is concerned with its influence on culture, including control over language, religion, education and so on. Hence, the ideology of the mature state always includes some nationalism (or some other ideas about the superiority of the given state's population; for example, its special progressiveness, revolutionary spirit, love for democracy/freedom, special historical deeds, etc.);

d) in connection with the growth of the role of property relations, the establishment of legal equality of the citizens, the abolishment of the privileges of the estates, the mature state is gradually transformed from the estate-class state to the purely class-corporate state. Thus, here the role of new industrial classes, especially the bourgeoisie, dramatically increases within the state system. As the class division is mostly economic, and not juridical, it becomes necessary to have organizations and corporations that express the interests of certain parts and groups of certain classes (and sometimes interests of a certain class as a whole). These are various organizations and political parties of both workers and bourgeoisie, as well as other social strata.

Thus, the mature state bases itself on new types of infrasocietal links:

– material links – unified economic organization and unified market;

– cultural links – unified culture-information organizations;

– national links – consciousness of national unity and development of new symbols of this unity: nation, national interests, supreme interests;

– consolidation on the basis of ideology: cult of law and constitution, cult of nation;

– consolidation on the basis of participation in pan-national organizations and corporations (trade unions, parties, movements) and participation in pan-national elections.


In this article it is demonstrated that the scheme ‘early state–mature state’ poorly describes the evolution of statehood, so the sequence of three stages (early state – developed state – mature state) has been suggested as a more acceptable alternative. However, it is worth paying attention to the fact that during the 20th century the social policy of highly developed mature states experienced radical changes. We can observe the transformation of the class state into the social state that is the state that actively pursues a policy of providing support for poor, socially unprotected groups and that places limits on the growth of inequality. Thus, many present-day characteristics of the Western states cannot be regarded unconditionally as the ones of the mature state (for more details see Grinin 2006b: 544; 2007b: 288–290; Grinin and Korotayev 2006: 98).


1 In particular Service's concept of chiefdom added a necessary stage of evolution above the community and under the state showing that this pre-state stage corresponds to quite complex and stratified societies; and Claessen and Skalník's theory of the early state supplemented a necessary evolutionary form ‘from above’ demonstrating that the early state and full-grown state are not just different stages of the maturity of the state but also different stages of socio-political evolution (Claessen and Skalník 1978а, 1978b; see also Claessen and Oosten 1996b; Claessen and van de Velde 1987a: 4, 5; cf. also Khazanov 1978: 77).

2 It is clear that there are some weak points in Claessen – Skalník's theory but their analysis is not the objective of this paper, especially because I have already dwelled on some of them (see e.g., Grinin 2003, 2004c, 2007a, 2007b; Bondarenko, Grinin, and Korotayev 2002). In particular I suggest that their theory does not take into account the fact that many complex non-state polities per se are not so much societies of a stage of development prior to the early state as well as they are polities quite comparable to inchoate and typical early state with regard to the level of evolutionary complexity and the scope of functions. I tried to show a possible solution of this problem by introducing the notion of early state analogues (ibid.; see also Bondarenko and Korotayev 2000a, 2000b). Another drawback of the early state theory is that implicitly only a monarchic form of state with a sacral monarch at the head is regarded as an early state and that is why the ancient and medieval democratic states virtually were disregarded by the theory (see about this e.g., Grinin 2004a, 2004b).

3 In general this is typical for Claessen's latter paper (1984) where the differences between the early state and the mature one were more sharply defined, while there was also put great emphasis on the appearance in the mature state of the bureaucratic type of organization. In particular he noted that: ‘The main differences between the early state and the mature states, then, lie in the type of legitimization, the degree of bureaucratic organization, and the level of economic development’ (ibid.: 365). Cf. also with the two types of societies in Smith's terms (1985): domination and bureaucracy of which according to Claessen's comments (1984: 365) the former corresponds with the early state and the latter covers the mature state.

4 But for all that it is a bit surprising that these discrepancies are in no way emphasized and discussed as if the authors themselves have overlooked them in their articles. However, this does not refer to the question of attributing this or that state to the mature or early type, for here the differences are quite obviously. For example, the Inca empire is treated both as a typical early state (Claessen 1978) and as a mature one (e.g., Schaedel 1985: 164; Bargatzky 1987: 31, however, Bargatzky does this with considerable reservations). However for me it seems strange to consider a state lacking any written system as a mature one.

5 But Claessen and Skalník's position is still expressed unclearly. On the one hand, they have some reservations that can be interpreted in the way that their scheme concerns only the evolution of the pre-capitalist non-industrial states (Claessen and Skalník 1978b: 5, cf. also Cowgill 1984: 371). But on the other hand, unfortunately, they do nowhere indicate clearly that the period of mature state does not include the epoch of the industrial state. That is why their definition of the mature state can be interpreted as the stage which covers the whole period of the state organization: from the early state up to the present or at least up to around the mid 20th century (see e.g., Claessen and Oosten 1996b). Such an ambiguity, no doubt, appeared because the conception of the mature state was not elaborated. For a more correct evaluation of Claessen's view on this point it is essential to note that when I was preparing this contribution Henri Claessen wrote me that Peter Skalník and he had never regarded the mature state as the final stage of the state evolution. And more distinctly, the idea that states of the capitalist or industrial type are not included in their concept of mature state was presented by him in the work ‘Verdwenen koninkrijken en verloren beschavingen [Disappeared kingdoms and lost civilizations’ (1991: 184–185, in Dutch)].

6 In other words, in the evolution of state organization he also defines two stages: the pre-industrial (early) and industrial states. Yet his stages are different from Claessen – Skalník's scheme of ‘early – mature’ states. And the latter two explicitly point out that Cohen doesn't define the type of the mature state but unfortunately they do not give any comments whether there are any differences in their understanding between mature and industrial states (Claessen and Skalník 1978с: 646).

7 Cf. also A. Vitkin's statement: ‘The essential assumption of the concept of primary state in both Marx and Weber is the thesis of the inferiority of its political form compared with the forms of new European states’ (Vitkin 1981: 443).

8 While preparing this contribution I was proposed by Henri Claessen, preserving the general idea of a threefold sequence, to rename my classification, and to speak instead about: ‘early – mature – modern states’ because he believes that there may be some confusion if the mature state is moved to a new place in the classification, and gets a new meaning. I am very grateful to him for this proposal and consider it necessary to report this suggestion as it is possible that his terminology may seem to the readers of this contribution more preferable than mine. At the same time I could not accept the proposal due to a number of reasons including that there is some semantic problem with the term ‘modern’. I believe it is in a different semantic chain than early – developed – mature states, which have some qualitative meanings while ‘modern’ has a temporal one. Of course, the term ‘early’ has some temporal semantic content too, but now – owing to Claessen and Skalník's researches – the term ‘early state’ is a stable one as a term that has a qualitative connotation meaning ‘unripe’, undeveloped, incomplete, or ‘archaic’ state. Also the term ‘modern state’ has a connotation ‘a nowadays state’ but is not a synonym for ‘industrial’ state. However there is a large difference between industrial states of the 19th century as class societies and the present-day states as a social and welfare ones. And, what is more, I have come to the conclusion that many present-day characteristics of the Western states already no longer can be regarded unconditionally as the ones of the typical mature state. They could be regarded as transitional mature states, within which some traits of future political forms emerge. In other words, there are certain grounds to expect that the end of the period of the mature states is forthcoming, and the world is entering the phase of a new (suprastate and supranational) political organization (see also ‘Conclusion’ of the present article; for more details see Grinin 2007b: 288–290; 2006b: 544; Grinin and Korotayev 2006: 98).

9 Note, however, that not all the mature states are democratic. On totalitarian mature states see Grinin 2007b: 274, 279–280).

10 It is worth noting A. Khazanov's position who, without practically analyzing the mature state (even not using such a term), still makes an incidental remark, which indicates the necessity of introducing such a three-stage scheme. He writes: ‘We can consider early states as distinctive not only from modern states, but also from the ancient states… where the latter marked the next, higher stage of development’ (Khazanov 1978: 77).

11 In general, these names are given to the respective phases in accordance with the tradition of Claessen and Skalník (1978b: 22–23; 1978c: 640; Claessen 1978: 589) who identified the inchoate, typical, and transitional stages of the early state.

12 Because of the restricted size of the article further comments, explanations, examples and references concerning the developed, mature and especially early states were omitted. Nevertheless, they can be found in my works devoted to this issue (see Grinin 2003, 2004c, 2006a, 2006b, 2007b; Grinin and Korotayev 2006).

13 Below I list my own definitions of the indicated types of states (for the comments on them see Grinin 2006a, 2006b, 2007b; Grinin and Korotayev 2006). The early state is a category by means of which we denote a specific form of political organization of a sufficiently large and complex craft-agrarian society (or a group of such societies/territories) that controls its external policy and, partly, social order; at the same time this political form is a power organization separated from the population, which a) possesses sovereignty (or, at least, autonomy); b) is capable of forcing the population to fulfil its demands, change important relationships and introduce new ones, and redistribute resources; and с) is not built (basically, or mainly) on kinship principles. The developed state is a category by means of which we denote a natural form of political organization of a civilized society (or a group of such societies) that is characterized by a centralized organization of power, administration, coercion and order maintenance in the form of a system of special institutions, positions (titles), organs, laws (norms) and which possesses (a) sovereignty; (b) supremacy, legitimacy and efficiency of power within a certain territory and a certain circle of people; (c) and has the capability to change relations and norms. The mature state is a category by means of which we denote an organic form of political organization of an economically and culturally developed society, a system of bureaucratic and other specialized political institutions, organs and laws supporting the internal and external political life; it is an organization of power, administration, and order maintenance that is separated from the population and that possesses: a) sovereignty; b) supremacy, legitimacy and the reality of power within a certain territory and a certain circle of people; c) a developed apparatus of coercion and control; d) the ability to change social relations and norms in a systematic way.

It makes sense to pay attention to the point that the early state is defined as a specific form of political organization of society because there were other such forms which I have identified as early state analogous (see note 2 to this paper; Grinin 2003, 2004c, 2007a, 2007b). The developed state is defined as a natural form of the political organization of society (that is, though the developed state is necessary to sustain social order in a supercomplex agrarian society, in principle, its main agricultural population could do without a state, let alone a large state if there were no threat of external invasions). In contrast, the mature state is defined as an organic form of the political organization of a society, that is, such a form without which a respective type of society (and its population) could not reproduce itself in principle.

14 Actually I take into consideration the criteria of the differences between the early and mature states (i.e. the developed state in my terminology), indicated by Claessen and Skalník (see above), but due to the general changes in the evolutionary scheme they have other definitions.

15 Considering the problem of a larger degree of centralization and integration of the developed states in comparison with the early ones it may be useful to take into account the classification of empires developed by Romila Thapar (1981: 411–413) who divides empires into two types depending on the nature of relationship between the metropolitan (centre) and peripheral areas (respectively integrated to a larger or smaller degree among themselves).


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