The Collapse of Complex Societies

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Mar 29, 1990 - History - 250 pages
43 Reviews
Political disintegration is a persistent feature of world history. The Collapse of Complex Societies, though written by an archaeologist, will therefore strike a chord throughout the social sciences. Any explanation of societal collapse carries lessons not just for the study of ancient societies, but for the members of all such societies in both the present and future. Dr. Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than 2000 years of explanations. He then develops a new and far-reaching theory that accounts for collapse among diverse kinds of societies, evaluating his model and clarifying the processes of disintegration by detailed studies of the Roman, Mayan and Chacoan collapses.
  

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Review: The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology)

User Review  - Drake - Goodreads

A very good compilation and analysis of explanations for social collapse. I am not convinced that his conclusion (increased cost of administrative complexity being the root cause of all social collapse) is correct, but it is certainly worth consideration. Read full review

Review: The Collapse of Complex Societies

User Review  - Jani-Petri - Goodreads

This was a quite interesting book. He makes a convincing case of societal collapse occurring because marginal costs of maintaining the system become too high compared to benefits. Interestingly ... Read full review

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Contents

Introduction to collapse
1
The nature of complex societies
22
The study of collapse
39
the marginal productivity of sociopolitical change
91
Relationship of marginal and average product
93
Average returns of agriculture
96
Marginal returns of agriculture in India
97
Productivity of caloric intake for increasing life expectancy
98
Reductions in fuel consumption of steam engines resulting from increases in thermal efficiency
110
Marginal yield in a branch of science
113
The marginal product of increasing complexity
119
The marginal product of increasing complexity with technological innovation or acquisition of an energy subsidy
125
complexity and marginal returns in collapsing societies
127
The Roman Empire at the time of Hadrian
130
Roman emperors
131
Debasement of the denarius from Nero to Septimius Severus
136

Patent applications and issues in respect to population and scientifictechnical personnel 18701950
100
Patent applications in respect to research inputs
101
Productivity of the U S health care system 193082
103
American expenditures on higher education 190060
104
Specialization in American education 18701960
105
Productivity of educational investment for the development of specialized expertise
106
British Admiralty statistics 191467
107
specialization 106 Overall economic productivity 108
108
Growth of GNP per capita
109
Emperors and pretenders from 235 to 285 A D
138
The Mayan area showing major subdivisions and selected sites
154
Construction of dated monuments at Classic Maya sites
165
Southern Lowland Mayan radiocarbon dates from elite contexts
168
San Juan Basin and surrounding terrain
176
TheChacoan regional system A D 10501175
181
Summary and implications
193
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