The Collapse of Complex Societies

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Cambridge University Press, Mar 29, 1990 - Social Science - 250 pages
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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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User Review  - ritaer - LibraryThing

Tainter examines several major cultures that show a rise in complexity and expansion in territory followed by a collapse and decline. Rome is, of course, a primary example, with Mayan culture, Chaco ... Read full review

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Important context for our current predicament. We are living through an unwinding period of diminishing marginal returns, and Tainter's work is immensely helpful in drawing parallels with the past.

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