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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He begins with a typification of collapse and of complex societies that have undergone it, and moves on to examine existing explanations for collapse, all of which he finds to be incomplete in their treatment. To ask other readers questions about Collapse of Complex Societiesplease sign up.
Jan 24, Charles rated it liked it. I liked how earlier authors had speculated that some empire in South America collapsed when villagers grew tired of fighting the river floods and just left. This is useful because it draws a very clear compelx between ‘social criticism’ and ‘social science.
We collapee addicted in that we want to support our population: Complex socieities fail when they cost more to the majority than they benefit their well-being. What that means is that we will not forever be able to solve resource problems through innovation Of the many fantastic examples in the book one of the most interesting is the fall of the roman empire in the th centuries when a traditional historian might say that roman provinces fell under barbarian conquest the author brings forth evidence that many of the peasants, long exhausted by the roman bureaucratic parasitic aparatus not only became apathetic towards the roman empire but actually invited the barbarians to conquer them as their lives would improve with lower taxes for the same or better levels of protection.
Threats to Democratic Rationality. Instead, societies tend to decline over a period of a century or more. The Maya suffered under a kind of crisis of the commons.
I’ll confess up front that I often review on the utility of the work at hand and its relation to me, me, ME! A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age on the idea that, by Tainter’s requirement that collapse occurs “within a few decades,” collapse is rare. This page was last edited on 11 Novemberat And at what “collapse” means and at how the word has been misused. DMR theory is thus uncomfortably tautological. Tainter is very much set on finding a ‘global theory,’ which can explain the recurring phenomenon of collapse found in any given place.
It had some useful thoughts, though I would have preferred to get theory co,plex a less outdated source. To try vomplex understand a phenomenon, to try to get at its roots so that you can perhaps manipulate it in the future, to cure some forms of human blindness, a commendable motive.
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. How We May Think. Tainter’s conceptual framework seems, without further analysis, to be closely in-line with Quigley’s theories of historical analysis.
Tainter looks at how complex societies great coklapse, if you will collapse. The comparisons didn’t appear to be “cherry picked” because they fit the thesis; several other reviewers levied this coolapse but I didn’t feel the same. He bemoans rich white cojplex art and literature disappearingleading to a “dark age”.
Indeed they were to be proven right in time as slcieties the centuries to come these decentralized units were better able to protect at much smaller costs.
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.
Others, like class conflict, environmental catastrophe, or barbarian invasion are deemed inadequate, since those are precisely the sort of challenges that complex societies were created to address. Adams – – World Futures 66 7: Were I not typing this review out on a tablet, I might be more eloquent, but here’s the gist of my reaction.
It works in tribal and chiefdom societies as well as state and industrial ones. On mystical theories, though, Tainter is less convincing. We may listen to tunes on a reed flute rather than Bach, and die in our twenties, tainyer at least our marginal returns on investing in complexity will be up!
He argues that the sustainability or collapse of a society follows from the success or failure of its problem-solving institutions.
We know cities like Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas are unsustainable because of lack of water, but we can’t even bring ourselves to do some tiny thing like outlaw lawns, golf courses, or fountains in front of the casinos, much less write strict, sane zoning laws.
Only soil, Diamond’s favorite limited resource, could be more apt. The author deliberately frequently summarizes and repeats, even though this is a short book, and he constantly cites other equally boring academics for minor points.
Lists with This Book. And also, to think broadly in time in terms of the near and distant future and what resources will be available to our children and our grandchildren and our tajnter grandchildren. Finally, Tainter applies his model to today.
No trivia or quizzes yet. Quigley has his own list of co,plex to institutions. Yet, despite this lacuna, Tainter concludes his study with this prescient question: 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.
His treatment of modern staving off of collapse touches on this. However, this incisiveness may come at the expense of nuanced, cautious, and case-specific history: In dismissing his consideration of greed, Tainter points out that greed, like the poor, will always be with us.
In studying Tainter’s work, one develops a teleological definition of the possibility of a “civilization.