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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Joseph Tainter

And also, to think broadly in time in terms of dr.joseph near and distant future and what resources will be available to our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. Can we innovate our way out of the inevitable decline of petroleum?

Intense, authoritarian efforts to maintain cohesion by Domitian and Constantine the Great only led to an ever greater strain on the population. I really can’t do this book justice in terms of its scope and analysis, but if you liked Jared Diamond’s works Collapse cites this a bunchcheck this out pronto.

That’s why collapse as it has historically occurred isn’t really possible today. The background is sufficiently deep and the argument is well-developed both logically and from comparative analysis.

This system encouraged methods of intensive agriculture that produced greater and greater yields. He compplex develops a new and far-reaching theory that accounts for collapse among diverse kinds of societies, evaluating his model and clarifying the processes of disintegration by detailed studies of the Roman, Mayan and Chacoan collapses.

But — while his book is valuable, it has tainrer holes.

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They were constrained geographically, which lead to competition between tainrer political centers. This is a df.joseph conference, but definitely worth watching.

What is interesting, however, is that by adopting the term “complex-society,” he implies that the conceptual framework of the entity can apply to any organization that serves a social function, their sub-units, and larger sys What was useful to me: Want to Read saving…. The farmer buying the fast tractor doesn’t see the oil cost in it’s impact on fertilizer cost, or food prices in poor countries, or something similar, so he makes what is for him the right Local decision, but Globally, it is the wrong one.


Why do outputs have to exceed inputs? The Chacoans of the American Southwest based their society on “energy collase 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.

Joseph Tainter – Wikipedia

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. Complex socieities fail when they cost more to the majority than they benefit their well-being.

Like the good scholar he is, Tainter is cautious in his approach to his subject and modest in the claims he makes for his conclusions. Rule, SUNY, Stony Brook, in Population and Environment “The book is thought-provoking, engaging, and often witty, and well illustrates the relevancy of classical antiquity to contemporary concerns.

Tainter starts with a brief survey of eighteen vanished civilizations around the world which provide the substance for his study.

Consumption of all the slack technology provides leads to an irrevocable commitment to complexity and interdependency. You can enter several keywords and you can refine them whenever you want.

They reverted to taxation, debasing the currency, and turning to slavery, which ultimately weakened their society to barbarian incursion. So the plague would have had the effect of a severe recession, and owners who no longer had the labor resources to make their land produce enough for the land tax would have to abandon it or sell to wealthy landowners, much like the wealthy have the extra resources to increase their investments in a downturn and acquire more income producing property at lower rates which they continue to own in the next upturn.

We’ll suggest content based on your keywords. It develops insofar as it is beneficial to the majority of its members. Do NOT read it, it’s not worth. He has no patience for theories that are overly dependent on the specific nature of each case, a trait that many historians and anthropologists would take issue with cf.


When a ckllapse confronts a “problem,” such as a shortage of energy, or difficulty in gaining access to it, it tends to create new layers of bureaucracyinfrastructureor social class to address the challenge. We are, in short, fookin idiots. Book reviews are sometimes uncertain exercises and of questionable value, especially mine. This is a minor strength and a major weakness of his book. This is very much an academic publication. At low complexity, adding more layers of doers, thinkers, and paper-shufflers makes society more productive and everyone better off, but bby additional layer takes energy, and eventually you run into the law of diminishing marginal returns, meaning that after a certain point society becomes paralyzed under the weight of its own corporate and governmental bureaucracies and can no longer adapt to changing conditions like resource shortage, environmental change, economic shifts, or external threats.

Moreover, “he Collapse of Complex Societies” is an academic monograph, so it has all the defects of that genre. Share your thoughts with other customers.

Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. He makes a convincing case of societal collapse occurring because marginal costs of maintaining the system become too high compared collqpse benefits. All cultures as culture are imprisoned in the iron framework that Tainter builds, subject socieeties the inevitable pressure of econometrics.

Tainter says diminishing returns eventually trap civilization in a no-win s Ok, done! I’ll confess up front that I often review on the utility of the work at hand and its relation to me, me, ME!