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The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter




Have you ever wondered why some civilizations rise and fall, while others endure for centuries? What are the factors that make a society vulnerable to collapse, and how can we prevent or cope with it? These are some of the questions that Joseph A. Tainter, an American archaeologist and anthropologist, tries to answer in his book The Collapse of Complex Societies.




the collapse of complex societies tainter epub download



In this book, Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse in history, ranging from ancient Mesopotamia to modern Somalia. He reviews more than 2000 years of explanations, from moral decay to environmental degradation, and finds them all inadequate. He then develops a new and far-reaching theory that accounts for collapse among diverse kinds of societies, based on the concept of diminishing returns.


In this article, we will give you an overview of Tainter's book, its main arguments, examples, and implications. We will also show you how to download the epub version of the book, which is a convenient and portable format that you can read on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you are interested in learning more about the collapse of complex societies, this article is for you.


What is a complex society and why does it collapse?




A complex society, according to Tainter, is one that has a high degree of differentiation and integration among its parts, such as social classes, institutions, organizations, technologies, etc. A complex society also has a high level of problem-solving capacity, which means that it can deal with various challenges and threats that arise in its environment.


However, complexity comes at a cost. As a society becomes more complex, it requires more resources, energy, information, and coordination to maintain itself. It also becomes more vulnerable to internal and external shocks, such as wars, famines, epidemics, rebellions, invasions, etc. At some point, the benefits of complexity are outweighed by its costs, and the society reaches a point of diminishing returns.


When this happens, the society faces a crisis that it cannot solve with its existing level of complexity. It has three options: increase complexity further, which may temporarily postpone but not prevent collapse; reduce complexity voluntarily, which may preserve some aspects of the society but entail a loss of power and prestige; or collapse involuntarily, which may result in a drastic simplification of the society and its problem-solving capacity.


Tainter argues that most societies in history have chosen the first option, until they reached a point where increasing complexity was no longer feasible or desirable. Then, they either collapsed or reduced complexity, depending on the circumstances and the choices of their leaders and members. He illustrates this process with several examples from different regions and periods of history.


The main cases of collapse in history




In his book, Tainter analyzes three major cases of collapse that are well documented and representative of different types of societies: the Roman Empire, the Maya civilization, and the Chacoan society. He explains the causes and consequences of each collapse, and compares them with other cases from around the world.


The Roman Empire




The Roman Empire was one of the most powerful and influential civilizations in history, spanning over three continents and lasting for more than a millennium. It reached its peak of expansion and prosperity in the 2nd century CE, under the rule of the so-called Five Good Emperors. However, after that, it entered a period of decline and crisis, marked by political instability, military defeats, economic troubles, social unrest, religious conflicts, and barbarian invasions.


Tainter argues that the main cause of the collapse of Rome was its increasing complexity and its inability to sustain it. As the empire grew in size and diversity, it faced more problems and threats that required more resources and solutions. The empire had to invest more in its army, bureaucracy, infrastructure, taxation, welfare, etc., to maintain its cohesion and security. However, these investments did not yield enough returns in terms of productivity, stability, or loyalty. Instead, they created more costs and burdens for the empire and its subjects.


Eventually, the empire reached a point where it could not afford to increase complexity any further, nor could it reduce it without losing its identity and legitimacy. It became vulnerable to internal and external pressures that it could not cope with. The empire split into two halves, which were later overrun by various barbarian groups. The western half collapsed in the 5th century CE, while the eastern half survived as the Byzantine Empire until the 15th century CE.


The collapse of Rome had significant consequences for Europe and the Mediterranean region. It resulted in a loss of political unity, cultural diversity, economic prosperity, technological innovation, artistic creativity, and legal order. It also led to a transition from a complex urban society to a simpler rural society, dominated by feudalism and Christianity. However, it also opened up new opportunities for cultural exchange, social mobility, and political experimentation.


The Maya Civilization




The Maya civilization was one of the most advanced and sophisticated cultures in pre-Columbian America. It flourished in the southern part of Mexico and Central America from about 2000 BCE to 900 CE. It is known for its achievements in art, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, writing, calendar systems, etc. It was composed of several city-states that competed and cooperated with each other.


Tainter argues that the main cause of the collapse of the Maya was their increasing complexity and their inability to sustain it. As the Maya city-states grew in size and population, they faced more problems and challenges that required more resources and solutions. The Maya had to invest more in their agriculture, irrigation systems, trade networks, warfare strategies, religious rituals, etc., to maintain their prosperity and prestige. However, these investments did not yield enough returns in terms of productivity, stability, or loyalty. Instead, they created more costs and burdens for the Maya and their environment.


Eventually, the Maya reached a point where they could not afford to increase complexity any further, nor could they reduce it without losing their identity and legitimacy. They became vulnerable to internal and external pressures that they could not cope with. The Maya city-states entered a period of decline and crisis, marked by droughts, famines, epidemics, social unrest, rebellions, wars, invasions, etc. The Maya civilization collapsed between 800 CE -900 CE , leaving behind their magnificent cities abandoned .


The collapse of the Maya had significant consequences for Mesoamerica . It resulted in a loss of political unity, cultural diversity, economic prosperity, technological innovation, artistic creativity, and scientific knowledge . It also led to a transition from a complex urban society to a simpler rural society, dominated by various local groups . However, it also opened up new opportunities for cultural exchange, social mobility, and political experimentation .


how and why complex societies collapse. His theory is based on the concept of diminishing returns, which means that as more resources are invested in a process, the marginal benefit of each additional unit of investment decreases over time. Tainter applies this concept to the problem-solving capacity of complex societies. He argues that as societies face more problems and challenges, they increase their complexity to solve them. However, each increase in complexity entails a higher cost in terms of resources, energy, information, and coordination. At some point, the marginal benefit of increasing complexity becomes less than the marginal cost, and the society reaches a point of diminishing returns. When this happens, the society faces a crisis that it cannot solve with its existing level of complexity. It has three options: increase complexity further, which may temporarily postpone but not prevent collapse; reduce complexity voluntarily, which may preserve some aspects of the society but entail a loss of power and prestige; or collapse involuntarily, which may result in a drastic simplification of the society and its problem-solving capacity. Tainter argues that most societies in history have chosen the first option, until they reached a point where increasing complexity was no longer feasible or desirable. Then, they either collapsed or reduced complexity, depending on the circumstances and the choices of their leaders and members. He claims that this process is inevitable and universal for all complex societies, regardless of their culture, ideology, or geography. The alternatives to collapse




Although Tainter's theory is pessimistic and deterministic, he does not deny that there are some alternatives to collapse that complex societies can pursue. He suggests that there are four main ways to avoid or mitigate collapse in the modern world: innovation, trade, subsidies, and cooperation.



  • Innovation: This means finding new ways to increase productivity and efficiency without increasing complexity or costs. For example, technological innovations can reduce the energy and resource consumption of a society, while social innovations can improve the organization and coordination of its parts.



  • Trade: This means exchanging goods and services with other societies that have different resources and needs. For example, trade can allow a society to access more resources and markets without increasing its complexity or costs.



  • Subsidies: This means receiving external support from other societies that have surplus resources and power. For example, subsidies can help a society maintain its complexity and problem-solving capacity without increasing its costs.



  • Cooperation: This means working together with other societies to solve common problems and challenges. For example, cooperation can reduce the conflicts and threats that a society faces without increasing its complexity or costs.



Tainter acknowledges that these alternatives can help a complex society avoid or delay collapse, but he also warns that they have their own limitations and risks. For instance, innovation may create new problems or dependencies; trade may create inequalities or dependencies; subsidies may create dependencies or resentment; and cooperation may create conflicts or loss of autonomy. Therefore, he argues that these alternatives are not sufficient or permanent solutions for the problem of diminishing returns.


How to download the epub version of the book




If you are interested in reading Tainter's book in full detail, you may want to download the epub version of it. Epub is a popular ebook format that can be read on various devices and platforms. It has several advantages over other formats, such as:



  • It is compatible with most ebook readers and apps.



  • It is flexible and adaptable to different screen sizes and orientations.



  • It is easy to navigate and bookmark.



  • It supports images, fonts, styles, hyperlinks, etc.



  • It is lightweight and portable.



, you can follow these steps:


What is an epub file and why use it?




An epub file is a digital file that contains the text and images of an ebook. It has the extension .epub and can be opened by various ebook readers and apps. Epub stands for electronic publication and is a standard format for ebooks.


Epub files have several advantages over other formats, such as PDF or MOBI. They are compatible with most ebook readers and apps, such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play Books, etc. They are flexible and adaptable to different screen sizes and orientations, which means that they can adjust the font size, layout, and pagination according to the device and preference of the reader. They are easy to navigate and bookmark, which means that they can provide a table of contents, hyperlinks, footnotes, etc. They support images, fonts, styles, hyperlinks, etc., which means that they can enhance the appearance and functionality of the ebook. They are lightweight and portable, which means that they can be easily downloaded, stored, and transferred.


Where to find the epub file of the book




There are several sources where you can find and download the epub file of The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter. Some of them are free and legal, while others may require a fee or a subscription. Here are some of the most popular sources:


Internet Archive




Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library that provides free access to millions of books, movies, music, software, etc. It also hosts a collection of ebooks in various formats, including epub.


To download the epub file of The Collapse of Complex Societies from Internet Archive, you can follow these steps:



  • Go to https://archive.org/details/TheCollapseOfComplexSocieties.



  • Click on the "Download options" button on the right side of the page.



  • Select "EPUB" from the list of formats.



  • The file will start downloading automatically to your device.



  • Open the file with your preferred ebook reader or app.



OceanofPDF




OceanofPDF is a website that provides free download links to thousands of ebooks in various genres and formats, including epub . It claims to be legal and safe , but some authors and publishers have accused it of piracy and copyright infringement . Use it at your own risk .


, you can follow these steps:



  • Go to https://oceanofpdf.com/authors/joseph-a-tainter/pdf-the-collapse-of-complex-societies-download-54146328670/.



  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the "Download" button.



  • A new tab will open with a captcha. Solve the captcha and click on "Get Link".



  • The file will start downloading automatically to your device.



  • Open the file with your preferred ebook reader or app.



Google Books




Google Books is a service that provides access to millions of books in various formats, including epub. Some books are free and public domain, while others may require a fee or a subscription. Google Books also allows you to preview some pages of the books before buying or downloading them.


To download the epub file of The Collapse of Complex Societies from Google Books, you can follow these steps:



  • Go to https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Collapse_of_Complex_Societies.html?id=YdW5wSPJXIoC.



  • Click on the "Buy ebook" button on the right side of the page.



  • Select your preferred payment method and complete the purchase.



  • Click on the "Read now" button to open the book in your browser.



  • Click on the "Download" button on the top right corner of the page.



  • Select "EPUB" from the list of formats.



  • The file will start downloading automatically to your device.



  • Open the file with your preferred ebook reader or app.



Conclusion




In this article, we have given you an overview of The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter, a book that explains how and why complex societies collapse throughout history. We have also shown you how to download the epub version of the book, which is a convenient and portable format that you can read on your device.


If you are interested in learning more about the collapse of complex societies, we recommend you to read Tainter's book in full detail. It will provide you with more examples, arguments, and implications of his theory. It will also challenge you to think critically about the complexity and sustainability of our own society and its future.


We hope you have enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thank you for reading!


Frequently Asked Questions





  • What is the main argument of The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter?



The main argument of The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter is that complex societies collapse because they reach a point of diminishing returns, where the costs of increasing complexity outweigh the benefits.


  • What are some examples of complex societies that collapsed in history?



the Chacoan society. Tainter analyzes these and other cases in his book.


  • What are some alternatives to collapse that complex societies can pursue?



Some alternatives to collapse that complex societies can pursue are innovation, trade, subsidies, and cooperation. These are ways to increase productivity and efficiency without increasing complexity or costs. However, Tainter warns that these alternatives have their own limitations and risks.


  • What is an epub file and why use it?



An epub file is a digital file that contains the text and images of an ebook. It has the extension .epub and can be opened by various ebook readers and apps. Epub files have several advantages over other formats, such as compatibility, flexibility, navigability, functionality, and portability.


  • Where to find the epub file of The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter?



There are several sources where you can find and download the epub file of The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter. Some of them are free and legal, while others may require a fee or a subscription. Some of the most popular sources are Internet Archive, OceanofPDF, and Google Books.


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