Part of New Studies in Archaeology. Author: Joseph Tainter. Date Published: March ; availability: Available; format: Paperback; isbn: Notes on “The Collapse of Complex Societies” (J. Tainter). 1. Introduction to Collapse. Intro! The sublime mystery of collapsed civilizations and dark portents. 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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Intense, authoritarian efforts compoex maintain cohesion by Domitian and Constantine the Great only led to an ever greater strain on the population. Anyway, Tainter does talk about this obliquely at one point. Nov 29, Mike rated it it was amazing Shelves: His analysis and application of his theory to the Western Roman Empire argues that josseph was not barbarians, Christians, or plagues that brought down Rome, but a limitation on the value of complexity.

Lists with This Book. Reform is the happiest. Jacques-Jean Caubet – This is a strange oversight in Tainter’s book, since most of the examples of “collapse” he uses don’t fit his own definition.

Intense, authoritarian efforts to maintain cohesion by Domitian and Constantine the Great only led to an ever greater societiew on the population.

It works in tribal and chiefdom societies as well as state and industrial ones. Yasuyuki Nei – His arguably best-known work, The Collapse of Complex Societiesexamines the collapse of Maya and Chacoan civilizations, [2] and of the Western Roman Empirein terms of network theoryenergy economics and complexity theory.

How We May Think. Tainter’s main examples are Romans, the Maya and the Chacoans, a combination which seems to lean coolapse towards relevance to the modern United States, Rome being the cultural predecessor and the other two societies being roughly geographical ones.

Apr 12, Aaron Arnold rated it it was amazing Shelves: It is just not quantifiable. The middle class in towns, however, was burdened by the cost of civil obligations. What is interesting, however, is that by adopting the term “complex-society,” he implies that the conceptual framework of the entity can societiss to any organization that serves a social function, their sub-units, and larger systems composed thereby.

In other xollapse, to think broadly in a geographical sense about the world around them, as well as the state of the world as a whole. May 11, S rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Surely there will someday be one road too many, if not already!


On mystical theories, though, Tainter is less convincing. Much shorter, deeper and more convincing than Jared Diamond’s one-note work, Tainter’s deftly analyzes the logic of and evidence for some dozen definitions of collapse in application to a range of ancient civilizations, honing down to a robust and satisfying model, despite its leaning on rational-actor assumptions.

Apr 20, Ron rated it liked it. In each summarized case, he briefly applies a few of his markers for collapse to a truncated history of the society, along with a short postscript about the society and geographical area, and concludes that most or all of his quantifiable markers characterize collapse, so his definition is correct.

Also I suppose I DO live a life of ease and luxury in comparison to a 19th century Russian peasant with only one actual horse in his stable.

For Tainter the economic determinist, superiority is only superior when it is measurable, using a scale of which he approves, and all other superiority is a value judgment, and hence anathema.

In short, he bases his theory upon a fundamental economic law if you will suffer jospeh dubious term here.

Joseph Tainter

And we have maintained it up to this point. I heard a great study about josepu lane mover that would increase one way traffic on the I corridor during ski season. This book seems to be tajnter workhorse of the industrial-collapse intellectual set Jared DiamondDerrick JensenJohn Michael Greeretc. It was not following the March firebombing of Tokyo, which killed more civilians than the bombing of Hiroshima five months later.

A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age on the idea that, by Tainter’s requirement that collapse occurs “within a few decades,” collapse is rare. Books by Joseph A.

His focus on regulations and taxes makes one feel Tainter is in with the Chi-town gang. Sort of scary in retrospect how many complex, seemingly stable societies basically evaporated over the course of only a few generations and that civilization as we know it has a relatively short existence compared to the totality of human existence. Civilization is more the exception than the rule. Since we were once again headed to see some ruins, I thought this an appropriate time to approach this book, although in the case of the Incas, we can easily identify Guns, Germs, and Steel and perhaps horses as the proximate causes of collapse.

Joseph Tainter: The Collapse Of Complex Societies | Zero Hedge

It is similar to Quigley’s distinction between ‘social instruments’ and ‘institutions: For example, as Roman agricultural output slowly declined and population increased, per-capita energy availability dropped. Tainter applies cillapse framework to three well-known societal collapses to see how well it holds up: Too much sober thought stifled speculation, may be it is because Tainter is an archaeologist who likes substantive reasons rather than flights of fancy.


However, this incisiveness may come at the expense of nuanced, cautious, and case-specific history: Full collapse, though, only occurs in the presence socueties a power vacuum. Normally I am a bit skeptical of the analysis coplapse historians as they seem to often have soft logic, often recurring to very subjective values or tainer, and telling long and boring stories about concepts such as heroism, some small details, series of random eveniments and such things, which are all good and great, but seem to me to have little explanatory power Social complexity can be recognized by numerous differentiated and specialized social and economic roles and many mechanisms through which they are coordinated, and by reliance on symbolic and abstract communication, and the existence of a class of information producers and analysts who are not involved in primary resource production.

Our current global situation is too interconnected for individual complex-societies to collapse in isolation. The globalised modern world is subject to many of the same stresses that brought older societies to ruin. So, I wouldn’t say this is for the layman. He ot collapse when a society involuntarily sheds a significant portion of its complexity. We know in the USA that salinization of soil societise California, where most of our produce is grown, is an increasing problem that will lead to starvation.

The civilization plateau’s and the structure established to help it grow becomes a part of society. Here he is, dismissing as unreasonable a phenomenon that should be familiar to us: 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.

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.