Part of New Studies in Archaeology. Author: Joseph Tainter. Date Published: March ; availability: Available; format: Paperback; isbn: 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. Political disintegration is a persistent feature of world history. The Collapse of Complex Societies, though written by an archaeologist, will therefore strike a chord.

Author: Tashicage Nikohn
Country: Tajikistan
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: History
Published (Last): 13 April 2005
Pages: 163
PDF File Size: 12.85 Mb
ePub File Size: 12.90 Mb
ISBN: 725-3-82298-597-9
Downloads: 94248
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Kele

Moreover, “The Collapse of Complex Societies” is an academic monograph, so it has all the defects of that genre.

The implications for modern society are many and thought-provoking. Rather, we get a lot of description. Ulanowicz Limited preview – References to this book Collapsed States: Yet, despite this lacuna, Tainter concludes his study with this prescient question: First off, this is more like a long academic paper than a book.

Arguably this make sense, for all past complex societies have been strongly hierarchical in nature. The advance of civilizations is a progression in organizational complexity as a solution to proble An excellent treatise that proposes a general theory on why many advanced civilizations throughout history eventually collapse, with very detailed treatment of Roman and Mayan collapses as case studies to support the hypothesis.

Joseph Tainter – Wikipedia

Hushour rated it liked it. In the evaluation section, Tainter describes the Roman collapse as due to inflation, taxes and regulation, the combination of which so reduced the marginal return to peasants that, after years of plague, the central government lost the support of the local regions.

Thus, barring continual conquest of your neighbors which is always subject to diminishing returnsinnovation that increases productivity is — in the long run — the only way out of the dilemma of declining marginal returns on added investments in complexity.


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!

Marginal yield in a branch of science. Either they will be bailed out or invaded. When there are warring polities declining marginal utility simply opens one up to conquest by one’s neighbors. We know in the USA that salinization of soil in California, where most of our produce is grown, is an increasing problem that will lead to starvation.

The impacts of inflation devaluation and the plague are self-evident, but Tainter has only mentioned regulations once in his analysis section.

At worst, it seems to suggest that complex societies that collapse must be isolated, or else that all their neighbours being less complex counts as such. This is useful because it draws a very clear distinction between ‘social criticism’ and ‘social science. Quotes from Collapse of Compl What was useful to me: We may listen societiws tunes on a cpmplex flute rather than Bach, and die in our twenties, but at least our marginal returns on investing in complexity will be up!

Therefore collapse can be good, and it needn’t be feared.

Joseph Tainter

This is very much an academic publication. Mar 17, Nick Black marked it as warily-considering Recommends it for: So, after summarizing the work of people like Gibbon, Toynbee, Spengler, and others he essentially dismisses with a wave of his hand.

However, the marginal benefits of ever greater investments in such complexity declines beyond a certain point and eventually becomes less than the marginal investment needed, complexx the buildup of complexity pointless and even harmful to society.


Quigley tainterr his own list of consequence to institutions. The alternative assumption — of idleness in the face of disaster — requires a leap of faith at which we may rightly hesitate.

Collapse of Complex Societies

The bibliography is astonishing. The civilization plateau’s and the This is a short, dense, book about a difficult subject. Lists societes This Book. This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. William Zartman Limited preview – 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.

Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter

Full collapse, though, only occurs in the presence of a power vacuum. When their borders reached a certain point, the costs of maintaining the empire collapsse the possible gains by further conquest. I find such historical examples very interesting and relevant in our age when centralization and bureaucratization has become such a huge taxing burden on the back of society.

Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

Another possibility I’m trying to cinch down the last loose knot on his thesis, you see is that the complexity is a house of cards. May 11, S rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: What I like about Tainter is that he doesn’t assume that complex societies are the ultimate good. This was good writing, to even taintee viewpoints that one disagrees with is a mark of intellectual integrity.