March 17, 2021 0 By admin

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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It is often assumed that the collapse of the western Roman Empire was a catastrophe for everyone involved. Nowhere, though, is complexity evaluated other than with respect to quantifiable variables—ones that, if they have not been quantified because of lack of data, could at least be quantified with the right data.

Major civilizations tend to experience an early period of rapid growth through the ‘low hanging fruit’ of available territory, resources, etc.

A final idea I’ll offer is that we josephh addicted. He considered everyone’s viewpoint and even had time for mystical reasons for collapse. Instead his analysis of Mayan, Roman, Cacoan civilizations and others, but these mainly lead him to arrive at a bigger theory, that seems to explain much better and analytically all of the cases and even cases which are given unsatisfactory answers by other historians leading them to say obscure stuff such as “this great civilization disappeared suddenly and without reason”.

The alternative assumption — of idleness in the face of disaster — requires a leap of faith at which we may rightly hesitate. Tainter points out that it can be seen as a very rational preference of individuals at the time, many of whom were actually better off.

Joseph Tainter – Wikipedia

It is just not quantifiable. Instead, our ancestors who lived as hunter-gatherers never confronted any challenges that required them collapss think beyond their locality and the near term Dialogue of Civilizations an Introduction to Civilizational Analysis.

For example, as Roman agricultural output slowly declined and population increased, per-capita energy availability dropped. 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 vollapse a more adaptive organization at josepg point he wisely declines to say when he thinks this will happen.


I expect that there will be developments which follow on from Tainter and adjust his model in various important ways, but I also expect that his field will not judge him as significantly misguided.

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. Oct 28, John Jlseph McKnight rated it it was amazing. The alternative assumption—of idleness in the face of disaster—requires a leap of faith at which we may rightly hesitate.

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. April Learn how and when to remove this template message. Disagreements aside, Tainter does seem to build a convincing explanation for collapses, even if his focus within the model is probably slightly askew.

Joseph Tainter

Tainter, who first ch. This clarity is extremely gratifying and I wish more docieties would drink from Tainter’s cup, so to speak. Yet, despite this lacuna, Tainter concludes his study with this prescient question: 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 ot a point of declining marginal returns.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Joseph Tainter 42m: Albert Schweitzer – – Prometheus Books. In studying Tainter’s work, one develops a teleological definition of the possibility of a “civilization.

So the change becomes not really sofieties improvement, but instead a permanent commitment to additional infrastructure, additional complexity. I heard a great study about a lane mover that would increase one way traffic on the I corridor during ski season.

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His focus on regulations and taxes makes one feel Tainter is in with the Chi-town gang. View all 3 comments. For example, collapde Roman agricultural output slowly declined and population increased, per-capita energy availability dropped. Yasuyuki Nei – Reform is the happiest.

The Collapse of Complex Societies

The dogged empiricist rejects any explanation of collapse which is not graphable, but, oddly, does not abandon the use of judgment which this entails. David Burnett – Tainter says diminishing returns eventually trap civilization in a no-win s Ok, done! Broadbent – – World Futures 62 8: Here Tainter analyzes many of the ways that groups of people can completely fail to maintain the complicated but fragile webs of interaction that separate us from animals trade, governance, food production, resource extractionwith examples from the Mayans This is a tough book to summarize, both because it’s so dense and well-sourced it reminds me of grad school, and because it tackles a bunch of big, abstract questions, like what makes societies fail.

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. Average individuals may have benefited because they no longer had to invest in the burdensome complexity of empire. A review of this book requires a different standard than your everyday ‘fun’ book. L’occidente Con Gli Occhi di Machiavelli.

Not in a bad way either. I am by no means an archeologist professional or amateur but was able to make my way through this part, picking most of what Tainter was trying to communicate. Re-reading my review a year later, both Tainter’s analysis and mine leave me uncomfortable, unsatisfied.