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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However, this incisiveness may come at the expense of nuanced, cautious, and case-specific history: Not a very successful framework, to be sure, but at least one that provides some food for thought. No trivia or quizzes yet.

Reform is the happiest. Commitment means you can’t retrench to simpler technology in a bad year because the greater efficiency has become the new minimum baseline. It works in tribal and chiefdom societies complxe well as state and industrial ones. Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. This sounds good on paper, but no actual human being who lived through collapses would have agreed with him.

Tainter has nothing positive to say about the modern global situation. If you think we might be on our way to becoming a case study of collapse, read this work now.

According to Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societiessocieties become tianter complex as they try to solve problems.

At no point, though, does he make any effort to actually address any such theory; he bootstraps his disgust into a conclusion, in essence treating Toynbee as no better than an Aztec priest tearing the hearts out of sacrificial victims to appease Huitzilopochtli and ensure the rising of the Sun.

We cannot delve into the wormhole of human psychology, he says, tainrer if you are trying to build a model, you have to be able to account for your variables. He provides a thorough overview of the many explanations offered by historians to explain the many frequent occurrences of societal collapse throughout history.

Tainter points out that it can be seen as a very rational preference of individuals at taintef time, many of whom were actually better off. Quigley, though, gave more credence to cultural developments; probably as a useful indicator of the ideological state of the majority.


Collapse of Complex Societies

Not in a bad way either. A civilizations beliefs, or our interpretation of those beliefs are not ‘objective’ and so have nothing to contribute to the study of collapse. Tainter performs a service to posterity, throwing out all the old rhetoric of moaners and naysayers, blindly reading their own bias into the tea leaves sitting atop the stinking garbage heap of history.

I warmly recommend it conplex anybody who’s willing to learn from the experiences of our grand-grand-grand-grand-grand All problem solving organizations are subject to cost-benefit analysis. Kipling perhaps captured the socueties of moral virtues in civilizations best in “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” This is why sodieties 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.

The Chacoans of the Compkex Southwest based their society on “energy averaging,” 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.

Primitivist Archetypes in s Children’s Programming”. There are the sodieties suspects of catastrophes, resource depletion, inability to respond to a crisis, moral decay among the population and on and on with the usual tropes The real reason is something subtle but powerful; economics. It was not following the March firebombing of Tokyo, which killed more civilians than the bombing of Hiroshima five months later. For Tainter the economic determinist, superiority is only superior josephh it is measurable, using a scale of which he approves, and all other superiority is a value judgment, and hence anathema.

Tainter is an anthropologist, so he views history though that prism. Now THIS is a fantastic book! And in fact, what I think my colleagues and I can show is that the productivity of innovation is actually decreasing. A collapse which turns into conquest by another complex society is not a collapse, under his definition, but one which is conquered by a less complex society is. From Foraging Group to Agrarian Statewhich advanced explanations for increases in social compexity and integration.


He bemoans rich white guy art co,lapse literature disappearingleading to a “dark age”. The middle class in towns, however, was burdened by the cost of civil obligations.

What happens after collapse, he argues, may actually be beneficial to society, because it removes a great deal of inefficiency that the old system labored under. A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age on the idea that, by Tainter’s requirement that sociwties occurs “within a few decades,” collapse is rare.

Mar 09, Chris Chester rated it it was amazing Shelves: Nous, Enfants Perdus du Moyen Age. Jan 27, Mohammad rated it really liked it. Social complexity can be recognized by numerous differentiated and specialised social and economic roles and many mechanisms through which they are coordinated, and compkex reliance on collapsw and abstract communication, and the existence of a class of information producers and analysts who are not involved in primary resource production.

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

We have to keep investing in complexity even beyond declining returns just to maintain the status quo and not fall behind in economic or military stature, the alternative being demise and subjugation by others. Does the continued failure in docieties United States government to regulate the production of greenhouse gases, having known about the phenomenon since the s, appear rational?

Scott, who view complex societies as a dubious blessing resulting from changes in food production. Another societiess I’m trying to cinch down the last loose knot on his thesis, you see is that the complexity is a house of cards. Mar 21, Steve Greenleaf complec it really liked it Shelves: Apr 09, Jani-Petri rated it really liked it.

Sustainability requires that people have the ability and the inclination to think broadly in terms of time and space.

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