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.

Author: Maumuro Zololar
Country: Iraq
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Science
Published (Last): 21 March 2006
Pages: 254
PDF File Size: 6.38 Mb
ePub File Size: 1.15 Mb
ISBN: 499-9-11133-796-3
Downloads: 72759
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Zulujin

Dialogue of Civilizations an Introduction to Civilizational Analysis. He also sees no way out – with no new territory to conquer and no new energy subsidy to replace oil, the industrial lifestyle will outlive its value and be replaced by a more adaptive organization at some point he wisely declines to say when he thinks this will happen. After devaluation of coinage, his main discussion has been about taxes. View all 3 comments. No categories specified categorize this paper.

His arguably best-known work, The Collapse of Complex Societiesexamines the collapse of Maya and Chacoan civilizations,[2] and of the Western Roman Empire, in terms of network theory, energy economics and complexity theory.

A civilizations beliefs, or our interpretation of those beliefs are not ‘objective’ and so have nothing to contribute to the study of collapse.

Any person with a deep knowledge of history which Tainter very evidently lacks knows that there is a tide in the affairs of men, that is purely qualitative yet is very real.

We are, in short, fookin idiots.

Tainter proceeds to evaluate the study of collapse itself, with an eye to establishing himself as unique, and all predecessors as pretenders. Mar 11, Void lon iXaarii rated it it was amazing Shelves: What do we talk about when we talk about the collapse of complex societies? 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.

He draws upon far more North and Central American societies in his examples than any from elsewhere. A sizable portion of the text is dedicated to refuting “mystical” explanations of collapse. Eventually a society will reach a point where existing resources or potential new resources cannot maintain the level of complexity the society currently has.


But this increased population required greater agricultural efforts and eventually they reached a point at which they could not continue this upward spiral. They were able to finance their complex society by plundering their areas of conquest.

His rejections of existing theories as incomplete seem to often focus on theories not spelling out a full causal chain between cause and effect to his satisfaction, rather than collpse rejection of a causal link, and in that light his identification of declining marginal soceities as the key factor can be cast in doubt compared to, for example, resource depletion, which seems more central to the economic argument he builds — declining marginal returns being a seemingly unavoidable factor, but societies which discover new energy sources seeming to survive despite it.

Here’s a link to some comparison between this book and Diamond’s Collapse. The Collapse Of Complex Societies. Tainter’s work societties 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. His paper Complexity, Problem Solving, and Sustainable Societies focuses on the energy cost of problem solving, and the energy-complexity relation in manmade systems.

Societal complexity is a tool for solving problems; sociopolitical systems require energy for their maintenance; increased complexity carries with it increased costs per capita; and investment in sociopolitical complexity as a problem-solving response often reaches a point of declining marginal returns.

Collapse of Complex Societies

Monthly downloads Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart. Why then don’t I live a life of ease with the US average 10kW at my disposal?

Refresh and try again. This article has no associated abstract.

The advance of civilizations is a progression in organizational complexity as a solution to problems of resource acquisition and distribution as populations become increasingly concentrated. There’s a wealth of fun polemics and theory and new soceities and tours-de-force against established views of the reasons for the collapses investigated in Book reviews are sometimes uncertain exercises and of questionable value, especially mine.

Joseph A. Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies – PhilPapers

Sign in Create an account. Tainter supports his theory well from civilizations across time, and uses very obvious info, like territory, and some fainter more unusual information, like crop yields, colonial administrations, and so on. Retrieved from ” https: If you can’t measure it, it’s not useful.

  ABB S280 PDF

Science Logic and Mathematics. When there are warring josepg declining marginal utility simply opens one up to conquest by one’s neighbors. Tainter looks at how complex societies great powers, if you will collapse.

The Collapse of Complex Societies

Tainter offers a sober view of the collapse of complex societies, he considered the viewpoints of so many sources that it is safe to take his word for it. He ventures that there can be no further sudden collapses in any society or country in today’s interconnected and full compllex where no power vacuum exists – any reduction, purposeful or otherwise, would instantly result in another advanced nation or power absorbing the entity into it’s fold. Scott, who view complex societies as a dubious blessing resulting from changes in food production.

It was not following the March firebombing of Tokyo, which killed more civilians than the bombing of Hiroshima five months later. And so individuals need to take responsibility for their own ignorance.

While Tainter can be a bit too Colin Renfrew in his use of quantification, his societes of how complexity unravels and how increasing social complexity ultimately begins to yield lower and lower returns on social investment is fascinating.

This book seems to be the workhorse of the industrial-collapse intellectual set Jared DiamondDerrick JensenJohn Michael Greeretc. We know in the USA that salinization of soil in California, where most of our societie is grown, is an increasing problem that will lead to starvation.

Instead, societies tend to decline over a period of a century or more. If you think we might be on o Dazzlingly brilliant, readable, profoundly insightful, this is a must-read for anyone thinking about what societal collapse means and how it comes about. Basically complexity becomes too costly and so collapse occurs. Subsequent resource extraction be it in the form of new mines, new agricultural lands, or new conquests have a lower return on energy invested generating a smaller surplus to sustain the complex society.

May 16, Dave rated it really liked it.