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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Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web. However, as the Empire grew, the cost of maintaining communications, garrisons, civil government, etc. The eastern half, being wealthier, was able to survive longer, and did not collapse but instead succumbed slowly and piecemeal, because unlike the western empire it had powerful neighbors able to take advantage of its weakness.

Not a very successful framework, to be sure, but at least one that provides some food for thought. Learn how to share your curation rights.

Collapse of Complex Societies

This allows for the support of specialized roles that do not necessarily contribute to the sustainability of the society aristocrats, priest castes, etc. He provides a thorough overview of the many explanations offered by historians to explain the many frequent occurrences of societal collapse throughout history.

Tainter proceeds to evaluate the study of collapse itself, with an eye to establishing himself as unique, and all predecessors as pretenders. Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. 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. Tainter does a good job with his argument, which I admit even I though I disagree with it in part.


I was delighted to see the author picking a large spectrum of historical events in the treatment of hist subject, trying to pick common and logical similarities and differences that would allow one to form a bigger picture!

Ships from and sold by Amazon. In short, he bases his theory upon a fundamental economic law if you will suffer the dubious term here. Apr 04, Adam rated it really liked it Recommended to Adam by: The Chacoans of the American Southwest based their society on “energy averaging,” where a confederation of local communities could feed into a larger system such that they would pay into it in times of surplus and take from it in times of need.

Therefore collapse can be good, and it needn’t be feared. This is unexceptional enough, in that it paints the definition with a broad enough brush that few would disagree. Overall, the book accomplishes what it dr.josfph out to do. For example, did Germany under ttainter Nazis act rationally? By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Risks of ‘domino effect’ of tipping points greater than thought, study says. He’s a buttoned-down scholar without any apparent pre-conceived agenda and certainly no intent to sensationalize.

Joseph Tainter – Wikipedia

Refresh and try again. Read reviews that mention complex societies marginal returns roman empire diminishing returns law of diminishing declining marginal resource depletion joseph tainter climate change complex society years ago returns on investments diminishing marginal western roman rise and fall new mexico marginal return investments in complexity bt become jared diamond.

A system so weakened becomes vulnerable to popular revolt or invasion, or lacks the will and resources to overcome other disasters. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Some of what he said let me to think of England in the last hundred years.


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 dr.jlseph available to it to support classes that do not contribute to resource expansion. In a world of competing polities, it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. In addition, Old World and New World scholars alike can profit from a reading of this book. Unfortunately the book’s strength is also its weakness.

If you think we might be on tainger Dazzlingly brilliant, readable, profoundly insightful, this is a must-read for anyone thinking about what societal collapse means and how it dr.josseph about.

Tainter argues that sustainability or collapse of societies follow from the success or failure of problem-solving institutions [3] and that societies collapse when their investments in social collqpse and their “energy subsidies” reach a point of diminishing marginal returns. But real-world systems, normally, do what they damn please, including crashing down in what we call the Seneca Effect.

Joseph Tainter

A dry read, yes. However, as the Empire grew, the cost of maintaining communications, garrisons, civil government, etc. If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? This is a minor strength and a major weakness of his book.