The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology)

Category: Humanities
Author: Joseph Tainter
All Hacker News 7
This Month Hacker News 1


by drallison   2018-11-10
The classic reference, for those HN readers who are not in the post-literate society, is Joseph Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies. The book explains Tainter's theory explaining collapse (increasing social complexity without commensurate improvement in quality of life) and concludes with an unconvincing representation that our society does not meet the conditions motivating collapse.

by sturadnidge   2017-08-20
Joseph Tainter has done some interesting work on the relation between societal complexity and collapse[1], here's a recent(ish) paper of his on the subject
by narrator   2017-08-20
The problem with the U.S system is everyone has their hand out for money. In America, Money is considered the universal yardstick for success and universally effective solution to all problems. The health care industry grew 20% last year? Fantastic!

It's a perfect example of the civilizational collapse process that Joseph Tainter, a professor of archeology, wrote about in his book "Collapse of Complex Societies"[1]. A society will get some sort of civilizational process that works to create wealth in their society. The civilization will continue to increase complexity to exploit this process and when the process starts returning negative marginal returns the collapse process begins because the whole civilization can't switch into reverse. This happened to the Romans with their conquer and receive tribute process for example. It eventually started yielding negative returns and they couldn't reverse course. The inertia was just too great.