Cover of: The collapse of complex societies | Joseph A. Tainter.

About the Book

A survey of complex (post-hunter-gatherer, hierarchical) societies and their collapse, and the various theories proposed to account for collapse. The author develops his own theory based on the increasing cost of managing complexity that acheives decreasing marginal benefits.

Table of Contents

Figures xi
Tables xii
Acknowledgements xiii
1 Introduction to collapse 1
What is collapse? 4
Collapse in history 5
After collapse 18
2 The nature of complex societies 22
Introduction 39
What collapses? More on definitions 39
Classification of theories 42
Framework of discussion 43
Resource depletion 44
New resources 51
Catastrophes 52
Insufficient response to circumstances 54
Other complex societies 61
Intruders 61
Conflict/contradictions/mismanagment 64
Social dysfunction 73
Mystical factors 74
Chance concatenation of events 86
Economic explanations 86
Summary and discussion 86
4 Understanding collapse: the marginal productivity of sociopolitical change 91
The marginal productivity of increasing complexity 93
Explaning declineing marginal returns in complex societies 109
Explaining collapse 118
Alternatives to collapse 123
5 Evaluation: complexity and marginal returns in collapsing societies 127
The colapse of the Western Roman Empire 128
The Classic Maya collapse 152
The Chacoan collapse 178
Evaluation 187
Conclusions 191
6 Summary and implications 193
References 217
Index 243

Edition Notes

Bibliography: p. 217-242.
Includes index.

Series
New studies in archaeology

Classifications

Dewey Decimal Class
930
Library of Congress
CB311 .T245 1988

The Physical Object

Format
Hardback
Pagination
xiv, 250 p.
Number of pages
250
Weight
620 grams

ID Numbers

Open Library
OL2738665M
Internet Archive
collapsecomplexs00tain
ISBN 10
0521340926
LC Control Number
86033432
Library Thing
17449
Goodreads
3786461
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July 15, 2019 Edited by Clean Up Bot import existing book
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April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user Initial record created, from Scriblio MARC record.