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By popular demand, we welcome Joseph Tainter, USU professor and author of The Collapse Of Complex Societies (free book download here). Author: Joseph Tainter The Collapse of Complex Societies, though written by an archaeologist, will therefore strike a chord Dr. Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than years of explanations. Collapse of Complex Societies has ratings and 91 reviews. Mark said: Ok, done!Tainter’s work is an opus. How could it be otherwise with a title lik.

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At worst, it seems to suggest that complex societies that collapse must be isolated, or else that all their neighbours being less complex counts as such.

Learn more about Amazon Prime. He refers to resources devoted to these functions as the society’s “investment in complexity”. Tainter’s work is an opus. This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification.

This theory is handy in its versatility – it can apply to whatever the most fundamental resource of a society is, from soil nutrition to fisheries to information flow to technical development to oil.

The explanation, he finds has to do with society’s investment in complexity: Sep 12, Matthew rated it it was amazing. Finally, Tainter applies his model to today. Declining comlpex benefits are still there and to sustain a complex system requ This was a quite interesting book.

The investment to acquire these resources is at first easily outwighed by their benefits. But obviously, without a new energy input, this state of affairs can’t go forever. When their borders reached a certain point, the costs of maintaining the empire exceeded the possible gains by further conquest.


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It is a strength in that his hypothesis is somewhat testable, at least relative to a Toynbee-type analysis. What that means is collapxe we will dr.jsoeph forever be able to solve resource problems through innovation We cannot delve into the wormhole of human psychology, he says, because if you are trying to build a model, you have to be able to account for your variables.

An excellent treatise that proposes a general theory on why many advanced civilizations throughout history eventually collapse, with very detailed treatment of Roman and Mayan collapses as case studies to support the hypothesis. Tainter proceeds to evaluate the study of collapse itself, with an eye to establishing himself as unique, and all predecessors as pretenders.

Joseph Tainter

He then presents his own explanation for collapse — the declining marginal returns of complex socities — and demonstrates its a Tainter’s work here is a dissection of what it means for a society to ‘collapse’, and an attempt at a rigorous causal explanation for why that collapse happens.

It deserves to be widely read. He notes that the modern world is different, not in its possible non-hierarchical approach to complexity, but in that collapse can only occur in a power vacuum, where no competitor will move in immediately, and no such power vacuum exists in the modern world on any relevant scale. Linked as we are by globalization, if any one nation collapses, they’ll just be bailed out and subsumed by another.

Joseph Tainter – Wikipedia

How to grow my audience and develop my traffic? He uses complexity as both a definitional marker for societies and tqinter a yardstick for measuring their collapse. Some of it is overly pessimistic—Tainter talks about how investing in energy production already in offered sharply diminishing returns, but he neglects countervailing trends, such as the diminishing cost of light production quantified by William Nordhaus in the s.


Here Tainter unveils the variable that explains everything for taiinter. The alternative assumption — of idleness in the face of disaster — requires a leap of faith at which we may rightly hesitate. Sign up to comment. May 11, S rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: He offers a framework for collapse collapse which he sums up in four concepts: Detailed studies of the Roman, Mayan and Cacoan collapses clarify the processes of disintegration.

Ships from and sold by Amazon. Whatever the answer, it is clear that speculation is part of the study of history and that was lacking in this book.

There’s skcieties wealth of fun polemics and theory and new approaches and tours-de-force against established views of the reasons for the collapses investigated in the book.

Scott in “Against the Grain,” Tainter thinks that the costs of a skcieties society may simply exceed its benefits to the people in that society, who will therefore be better off at a less complex level of organization. It develops insofar as it is beneficial to the majority of its members.

Moreover, “he Collapse of Complex Societies” is an academic monograph, so it has all the defects of that genre. To maintain and expand complexity which is a good strategy when new resources are low investment accessible a society must continue to increase the amount of resources available to it to support classes societiex do not contribute to resource expansion. And we have maintained it up to this point.