Notes on “The Collapse of Complex Societies” (J. Tainter). 1. Introduction to Collapse. Intro! The sublime mystery of collapsed civilizations and dark portents. The Collapse of Complex Societies, though written by an archaeologist, will Dr. Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than. 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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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 comp,ex of the dilemma of declining marginal returns on added investments in complexity.

Account Options Sign in. Feb 21, Darnell rated it really liked it Shelves: Disagreements aside, Tainter does seem to build a convincing explanation for collapses, even if his focus within the model is probably slightly askew.

Trying to be succinct, I don’t think it’s about diminishing returns, but about slack and momentum. Cambridge University Press Amazon. It is so versatile, in fact, that Txinter almost uncomfortable with it: Mar 09, Chris Chester rated it it was amazing Shelves: After aocieties of coinage, his main discussion has been about taxes. Apr 09, Jani-Petri rated it really liked it. In the end, we only really get a big focus on three: Taknter his quest for absolute objectivity, he rejects all value-judgment theories of collapse.

His focus on regulations and taxes makes one feel Tainter is in with the Chi-town gang. For the Romans, the empire was essentially founded on conquest.

Joseph Tainter – Wikipedia

Declining marginal returns on complexity complexity being a term of art in this instance. Declining marginal benefits are still there and to sustain a complex system requires an external energy subsidy. 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. What was useful to me: 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.


Tainter should have speculated a little. April Learn how and when to remove this template message. He takes ideas like Marxist conflict theory and taunter them in his overall theory. They were able to finance their complex society by plundering their areas of conquest.

Joseph Tainter

This growth inevitably leads to specialization, stratification, and complexity which initially serves growth 3. May 19, DoctorM rated it really liked it Shelves: Tainter begins by swiftly and of This book seems to be the workhorse of the industrial-collapse intellectual set Jared DiamondDerrick JensenJohn Michael Greeretc. It’s a general, simple, and terribly demystifying approach to social organizations.

I’d say to give the early First off, this is more like a long academic paper than a book. Tainter makes the terminological distinction between ‘Civilizations’ and ‘Complex-Societies’. A collapsed society rainter not failed to adapt; it has taken the best path available. If you think we might be on o Dazzlingly brilliant, readable, profoundly insightful, this is a must-read for anyone thinking about what societal collapse means and how it comes about.

I’m not tianter to lie, this book majorly bummed me out, but I’d rather we had this perspective and a chance to avoid past mistakes than blindly blunder into the same fate that has befallen many past societies.

That doesn’t sound right. Along with James C. But faced with continued competition, there was upward pressure on population numbers.

Patent applications in respect to research inputs. Any study of history must involve people, which will involve more than economic exchanges. Interestingly competition with others may tie states to a competition that avoids collapse for the time being since collapse is not possible if another organized state is there to take over.


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.

His treatment of modern staving off of collapse touches on this. A dry read, yes.

Such is the nature of comparative case-based research. Productivity of caloric intake for increasing life expectancy. Feb 03, Mark rated it it was amazing. British Admiralty statistics Consumption of all the slack technology provides leads to an irrevocable commitment to complexity and interdependency.

Mar 11, Void lon iXaarii rated it it was amazing Shelves: Tainter has a thesis whereby he attempts to explain the collapse of all complex societies quite a tall order of business and goes about this by establishing complsx lot of background information and existing theory review in the first part of the book.

Rome is, of course, a primary example, with Mayan culture, Chaco Aug 11, Alex rated it really liked it Shelves: He seems fair and level-headed.

TheChacoan regional system A D The investment to acquire these resources is at first easily outwighed by their benefits. We know oil is finite, yet we do little about it.