This blog (when I can post) frequently focuses on social organization and the ways people are trying to adapt to changing times, especially as the nation-state and other traditional institutions lose their old sway.
So I'm overdue to delve into one that's stuck with me for some time: the phyles from Neil Stephenson's fascinating (though massively flawed on several levels) novel The Diamond Age. Phyles are cultural groupings powerful enough to largely replace nation-states. Despite being in an ostensibly post-national era, the Phyles largely break down on old lines (China, India, Japan), with some throwbacks like Maoists or Stephenson's BFFs, the Neo-Victorians.
Naturally enough, the actual workings of the phyles are largely in the background (this is a novel, after all, not a social treatise, and is usually awful when it stumbles in that direction), but as shorthand for "socioeconomic group that could supplant aspects of nations" it's useful for the following thought exercise.
How would a phyle actually work?