Apr 09, Jani-Petri rated it really liked it. He then presents his own explanation for collapse — the declining marginal returns of complex socities — and demonstrates its applicability to a selection of cases. Tainter, who first ch. The Collapse Of Complex Societies. Finally, the complex structure begins to a positive drain on the civilization as it has to spend more and more to get less and less. Kipling perhaps captured the role of moral virtues in civilizations best in “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” This is why purely economic theories for the Great Divergence are always miserably incomplete—they take no account of culture, which cannot be quantified, but is determinative of the course of a civilization. Reform is the happiest.

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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. Oct 04, J. It is often assumed that the collapse of the western Roman Empire was a catastrophe for everyone involved.

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If you think we might be on our way to becoming a case study of collapse, read this work now. He paints the Ik, in Uganda, as an example of extreme collapse, alleging, for example, that children are abandoned by their mothers at age three and that sharing is nonexistent in the society. It might be far fetched but it is possible that is what happened. But complrx cases, like the Maya, the Western Societiies Empire, and Easter Island, are among those situations that do not provide easy explanations.

Either they will be bailed out or invaded. I also love that unlike most authors he does not have this super negative view of these socieyies that one often encounters, and far from threating them as failures to adapt realizes that they are in fact great successes in adapting, even though the adaptation might be in a direction that many dislike.


Collapse of Complex Societies

It’s a little ponderous to read, because it is documented and reasoned like a thesis. While for the most part convincing, Tainter’s thesis has a few holes worthy of highlight. Tainter, who first ch. 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.

What is the point of building a model? He rejects outlooks that can’t be backed by empirical evidence. Tainter looks at how complex societies great powers, if you will collapse. Apr 12, Aaron Arnold rated it it was amazing Shelves: Jan 24, Charles rated it liked it.

The moment the returns gained from complexity that is a hallmark of a complex society start diminishing, then the collapse clock starts ticking.

Lacking the ability to build quantitative tests of these theories, he has proceeded with a duly empirical presentation of cases, which is likely as best he can do.

This is not to say that what Tainter offers is wrong, but it is most definitely incomplete. Here Tainter analyzes many of the ways that groups of people can completely fail to maintain the complicated but fragile webs of joseph tainter collapse of complex societies 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.


However, this incisiveness may come at the expense of nuanced, cautious, and case-specific history: Not in a bad way either.

Joseph Tainter: The Collapse Of Complex Societies | Zero Hedge

Tainter points out that it can be seen as a very rational preference of individuals at the time, many ckllapse whom were actually better off. Jun 30, Betawolf rated it really liked it Shelves: I find such historical examples very interesting and collapxe in our age when centralization and bureaucratization has become such a huge taxing burden on joseeph back of society.

First off, this is more like a long academic paper than a joseph tainter collapse of complex societies. All problem solving organizations are subject to cost-benefit analysis. Thus, we learn a great deal about the state of anthropological and archaeological knowledge as of thirty years ago. Commitment means you can’t retrench to simpler technology in a bad year because the greater efficiency has become the new minimum baseline.

Nobody would call the writing spicy, although there are flashes of humor. Quigley, though, gave more credence to cultural developments; probably as a useful indicator of the ideological state of the majority.

Joseph Tainter – Wikipedia

There’s a wealth of fun polemics and theory and new approaches and tours-de-force against established views of the reasons for the collapses investigated in the book.

This system encouraged methods of intensive agriculture that produced greater and greater yields.

Retrieved from ” https: What you don’t get is what I selfishly expected: