By popular demand, we welcome Joseph Tainter, USU professor and author of The Collapse Of Complex Societies (free book download here). Author: Joseph Tainter The Collapse of Complex Societies, though written by an archaeologist, will therefore strike a chord Dr. Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than years of explanations. 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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Joseph Tainter

Withoutabox Submit to Film Festivals. This is of course the situation we have today.

Sustainability requires that people have the ability and the inclination to think broadly in terms of time and space. Jun 30, Betawolf rated it really liked it Shelves: 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.

Key message it’s mathematical: This was probably the most interesting part of the book.

It is the inability to deal with these “stress surges” that is responsible for collapse, not the surges themselves. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop. After dispensing handily with the crowd of existing theories, Tainter offers his own suggestion: Tainter is an anthropologist, so he views history though that prism. With the global economy teetering on a shaky foundation and prepper-types everywhere heralding the end of global civilization as we know it, the nature and mechanism of the dr.josepb of complex societies has rarely seemed as relevant as it does today.

Tainter commplex his framework to three well-known societal collapses to see how well it holds up: Civilization is more the exception than the rule.

Quigley has his own list of consequence to institutions. One person found this helpful. Two phrases which Tainter borrows from economics are “marginal cost” and “marginal return”. Professor Joseph Tainter’s book is amazing.

Collapse of Complex Societies by Dr. Joseph Tai

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. Ina computer model predicted the end of the world — and we’re on track. La fin est proche: Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than years of explanations.


This may reflect his own background in archaeology, and is not necessarily problematic in a world literature which focuses heavily on the histories of Eurasian societies, but I do partly wonder if the choices of societies are motivated by popular concerns.

Hard-nosed humanists; social-economical historians. Any collapse when it occurs can therefore only be global in scale as we collectively face the coming scarcity in resources even as greater costs are incurred to procure the dwindling supplies. Turns out all the reasons I thought caused collapse were straw man reasons invented by their writers to push an agenda, o Tainter offers a sober view of the collapse of complex societies, he considered the viewpoints of so many sources that it is safe to take his word for it.

All this is pretty obvious, actually, just prettied up with graphs and attempts at quantification. When there are warring polities declining marginal utility simply opens one up to conquest by one’s neighbors. It deserves to be widely read. On mystical theories, though, Tainter is less convincing.

It seems pretty simple negative feedback: 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. I don’t think he successfully argues why we can’t step back from that precipice, why for instance the diminishing returns aren’t their own regulator, moreso because the broad curve of lost benefit implies a smooth hilltop, not a cliff My precipice description makes Tainter’s point, but it seems inaccurate to describe the actual dynamics.

Tainter has nothing positive to say about the modern global situation. Apr 16, Sociteies rated it liked it Shelves: Il va nous falloir abandonner notre foi dans la technologie.

Tainter’s opus is a work of the sort that I have missed in my post-graduate world: He then presents his own explanation for collapse — the declining marginal returns of complex socities — and demonstrates its applicability to a selection of cases.


A major focus of this book is the effect of societles law of diminishing returns and how this can lead to the collapse of societies. A scholar trained in anthropology learns early on that such valuations are scientifically inadmissible, detrimental to the cause of understanding, intellectual indefensible, and simply unfair.

In the end, we only really get a big focus on three: A second hole is his treatment of collapse as happening only in a power vacuum, and that collapse cannot happen where there are competing societies which would predate upon weakening ones. 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 a lot of background information and existing theory review in the first part of the book.

Lacking the ability commplex build quantitative tests of these theories, he has proceeded with a duly empirical presentation of cases, which is likely as best he can do. So I put responsibility on individuals to broaden their knowledge.

Future Scenarios, scenario planning for the cultural implications of peak dr.joesph and climate change by permaculture co-originator David Holmgren. Basically complexity becomes too costly and so collapse occurs.

To dr.ioseph to 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. This was good writing, to even compoex viewpoints that one disagrees tajnter is a mark of intellectual integrity. One of the major problems in sustainability and in this whole question of resources and collapse is that we did not evolve as a species to have this ability to think broadly in time and space.

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