The Collapse of Complex Societies


Author: Joseph Tainter
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521386739
Category: Social Science
Page: 250
View: 9746
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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.

Collapse

How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive
Author: Jared Diamond
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 0141976969
Category: History
Page: 608
View: 8031
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From the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive is a visionary study of the mysterious downfall of past civilizations. Now in a revised edition with a new afterword, Jared Diamond's Collapse uncovers the secret behind why some societies flourish, while others founder - and what this means for our future. What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island? What happened to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids? Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the temples at Angkor Wat? Bringing together new evidence from a startling range of sources and piecing together the myriad influences, from climate to culture, that make societies self-destruct, Jared Diamond's Collapse also shows how - unlike our ancestors - we can benefit from our knowledge of the past and learn to be survivors. 'A grand sweep from a master storyteller of the human race' Daily Mail 'Riveting, superb, terrifying' Observer 'Gripping ... the book fulfils its huge ambition, and Diamond is the only man who could have written it' Economist 'This book shines like all Diamond's work' Sunday Times Jared Diamond (b. 1937) is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Until recently he was Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the widely acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies, which also is the winner of Britain's 1998 Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize.

Drilling Down

The Gulf Oil Debacle and Our Energy Dilemma
Author: Joseph A. Tainter,Tadeusz W. Patzek
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9781441976772
Category: Technology & Engineering
Page: 242
View: 9803
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For more than a century, oil has been the engine of growth for a society that delivers an unprecedented standard of living to many. We now take for granted that economic growth is good, necessary, and even inevitable, but also feel a sense of unease about the simultaneous growth of complexity in the processes and institutions that generate and manage that growth. As societies grow more complex through the bounty of cheap energy, they also confront problems that seem to increase in number and severity. In this era of fossil fuels, cheap energy and increasing complexity have been in a mutually-reinforcing spiral. The more energy we have and the more problems our societies confront, the more we grow complex and require still more energy. How did our demand for energy, our technological prowess, the resulting need for complex problem solving, and the end of easy oil conspire to make the Deepwater Horizon oil spill increasingly likely, if not inevitable? This book explains the real causal factors leading up to the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, a disaster from which it will take decades to recover.

Beyond Collapse

Archaeological Perspectives on Resilience, Revitalization, and Transformation in Complex Societies
Author: Ronald K. Faulseit
Publisher: SIU Press
ISBN: 0809333996
Category: History
Page: 532
View: 5777
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New approaches to collapsed complex societies. The Maya. The Romans. The great dynasties of ancient China. It is generally believed that these once mighty empires eventually crumbled and disappeared. A recent trend in archaeology, however, focusing on what happened during and after the decline of once powerful regimes has found social resilience and transformation instead of collapse. In Beyond Collapse: Archaeological Perspectives on Resilience, Revitalization, and Transformation in Complex Societies, editor Ronald K. Faulseit gathers scholars with diverse theoretical perspectives to interpret how ancient civilizations responded to various stresses, including environmental change, warfare, and the fragmentation of political institutions. Contributors discuss not only what makes societies collapse but also why some societies are resilient and others are not, as well as how societies reorganize after collapse. Putting in context issues we face today, such as climate change, social diversity, and the failure of modern states, Beyond Collapse is an essential volume for readers interested in humanenvironment interaction and in the collapse--and subsequent reorganization--of human societies.

Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall

Why States Rise and Fall
Author: Peter Turchin
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400889316
Category: History
Page: 264
View: 972
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Many historical processes are dynamic. Populations grow and decline. Empires expand and collapse. Religions spread and wither. Natural scientists have made great strides in understanding dynamical processes in the physical and biological worlds using a synthetic approach that combines mathematical modeling with statistical analyses. Taking up the problem of territorial dynamics--why some polities at certain times expand and at other times contract--this book shows that a similar research program can advance our understanding of dynamical processes in history. Peter Turchin develops hypotheses from a wide range of social, political, economic, and demographic factors: geopolitics, factors affecting collective solidarity, dynamics of ethnic assimilation/religious conversion, and the interaction between population dynamics and sociopolitical stability. He then translates these into a spectrum of mathematical models, investigates the dynamics predicted by the models, and contrasts model predictions with empirical patterns. Turchin's highly instructive empirical tests demonstrate that certain models predict empirical patterns with a very high degree of accuracy. For instance, one model accounts for the recurrent waves of state breakdown in medieval and early modern Europe. And historical data confirm that ethno-nationalist solidarity produces an aggressively expansive state under certain conditions (such as in locations where imperial frontiers coincide with religious divides). The strength of Turchin's results suggests that the synthetic approach he advocates can significantly improve our understanding of historical dynamics.

After Collapse

The Regeneration of Complex Societies
Author: Glenn M. Schwartz,John J. Nichols
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
ISBN: 9780816529360
Category: Social Science
Page: 295
View: 8233
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From the Euphrates Valley to the southern Peruvian Andes, early complex societies have risen and fallen, but in some cases they have also been reborn. Prior archaeological investigation of these societies has focused primarily on emergence and collapse. This is the first book-length work to examine the question of how and why early complex urban societies have reappeared after periods of decentralization and collapse. Ranging widely across the Near East, the Aegean, East Asia, Mesoamerica, and the Andes, these cross-cultural studies expand our understanding of social evolution by examining how societies were transformed during the period of radical change now termed Òcollapse.Ó They seek to discover how societal complexity reemerged, how second-generation states formed, and how these re-emergent states resembled or differed from the complex societies that preceded them. The contributors draw on material culture as well as textual and ethnohistoric data to consider such factors as preexistent institutions, structures, and ideologies that are influential in regeneration; economic and political resilience; the role of social mobility, marginal groups, and peripheries; and ethnic change. In addition to presenting a number of theoretical viewpoints, the contributors also propose reasons why regeneration sometimes does not occur after collapse. A concluding contribution by Norman Yoffee provides a critical exegesis of ÒcollapseÓ and highlights important patterns found in the case histories related to peripheral regions and secondary elites, and to the ideology of statecraft. After Collapse blazes new research trails in both archaeology and the study of social change, demonstrating that the archaeological record often offers more clues to the Òdark agesÓ that precede regeneration than do text-based studies. It opens up a new window on the past by shifting the focus away from the rise and fall of ancient civilizations to their often more telling fall and rise. CONTRIBUTORS Bennet Bronson, Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, Christina A. Conlee, Lisa Cooper, Timothy S. Hare, Alan L. Kolata, Marilyn A. Masson, Gordon F. McEwan, Ellen Morris, Ian Morris, Carlos Peraza Lope, Kenny Sims, Miriam T. Stark, Jill A. Weber, Norman Yoffee

Understanding Collapse


Author: Guy D. Middleton
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 110715149X
Category: History
Page: 300
View: 2901
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In this lively survey, Guy D. Middleton critically examines our ideas about collapse - how we explain it and how we have constructed potentially misleading myths around collapses - showing how and why collapse of societies was a much more complex phenomenon than is often admitted.

Why Did Ancient Civilizations Fail?


Author: Scott A J Johnson
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1315512874
Category: Social Science
Page: 308
View: 5303
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Ideas abound as to why certain complex societies collapsed in the past, including environmental change, subsistence failure, fluctuating social structure and lack of adaptability. Why Did Ancient Civilizations Fail? evaluates the current theories in this important topic and discusses why they offer only partial explanations of the failure of past civilizations. This engaging book offers a new theory of collapse, that of social hubris. Through an examination of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Roman, Maya, Inca, and Aztec societies, Johnson persuasively argues that hubris blinded many ancient peoples to evidence that would have allowed them to adapt, and he further considers how this has implications for contemporary societies. Comprehensive and well-written, this volume serves as an ideal text for undergraduate courses on ancient complex societies, as well as appealing to the scholar interested in societal collapse.

Questioning Collapse

Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire
Author: Patricia A. McAnany,Norman Yoffee
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1107717329
Category: Social Science
Page: 390
View: 7132
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Questioning Collapse challenges those scholars and popular writers who advance the thesis that societies - past and present - collapse because of behavior that destroyed their environments or because of overpopulation. In a series of highly accessible and closely argued essays, a team of internationally recognized scholars bring history and context to bear in their radically different analyses of iconic events, such as the deforestation of Easter Island, the cessation of the Norse colony in Greenland, the faltering of nineteenth-century China, the migration of ancestral peoples away from Chaco Canyon in the American southwest, the crisis and resilience of Lowland Maya kingship, and other societies that purportedly 'collapsed'. Collectively, these essays demonstrate that resilience in the face of societal crises, rather than collapse, is the leitmotif of the human story from the earliest civilizations to the present. Scrutinizing the notion that Euro-American colonial triumphs were an accident of geography, Questioning Collapse also critically examines the complex historical relationship between race and political labels of societal 'success' and 'failure'.

Myths of the Archaic State

Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States, and Civilizations
Author: Norman Yoffee
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521521567
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 277
View: 733
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Classical archaeology promotes the view that a state's evolution reflects general, universal forces. Norman Yoffee challenges the model in this book by presenting more complex and multi-linear models for the evolution of civilizations. Yoffee questions the definition of the prehistoric state, particularly that which heralds "the chiefdom" as the forerunner of the ancient state and explores case studies on the role of women in ancient societies.

Empires


Author: Michael W. Doyle
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801493348
Category: History
Page: 407
View: 8452
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Ancient Complex Societies


Author: Jennifer C. Ross,Sharon R. Steadman
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISBN: 1315305623
Category: HISTORY
Page: 440
View: 4699
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Ancient Complex Societies examines the archaeological evidence for the rise and functioning of politically and socially “complex” cultures in antiquity. Particular focus is given to civilizations exhibiting positions of leadership, social and administrative hierarchies, emerging and already developed complex religious systems, and economic differentiation. Case studies are drawn from around the globe, including Asia, the Mediterranean region, and the American continents. Using case studies from Africa, Polynesia, and North America, discussion is dedicated to identifying what “complex” means and when it should be applied to ancient systems. Each chapter attempts to not only explore the sociopolitical and economic elements of ancient civilizations, but to also present an overview of what life was like for the later population within each system, sometimes drilling down to individual people living their daily lives. Throughout the chapters, the authors address problems with the idea of complexity, the incomparability of cultures, and the inconsistency of archaeological and historical evidence in reconstructing ancient cultures.

Overshoot

The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change
Author: William Robert Catton
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
ISBN: 9780252009884
Category: Science
Page: 298
View: 5607
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Mass Flourishing

How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change
Author: Edmund S. Phelps
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400848296
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 392
View: 6375
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In this book, Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps draws on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about what makes nations prosper--and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented material wealth but "flourishing"--meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges. These values fueled the grassroots dynamism that was necessary for widespread, indigenous innovation. Most innovation wasn't driven by a few isolated visionaries like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs; rather, it was driven by millions of people empowered to think of, develop, and market innumerable new products and processes, and improvements to existing ones. Mass flourishing--a combination of material well-being and the "good life" in a broader sense--was created by this mass innovation. Yet indigenous innovation and flourishing weakened decades ago. In America, evidence indicates that innovation and job satisfaction have decreased since the late 1960s, while postwar Europe has never recaptured its former dynamism. The reason, Phelps argues, is that the modern values underlying the modern economy are under threat by a resurgence of traditional, corporatist values that put the community and state over the individual. The ultimate fate of modern values is now the most pressing question for the West: will Western nations recommit themselves to modernity, grassroots dynamism, indigenous innovation, and widespread personal fulfillment, or will we go on with a narrowed innovation that limits flourishing to a few? A book of immense practical and intellectual importance, Mass Flourishing is essential reading for anyone who cares about the sources of prosperity and the future of the West.

Cosmic Evolution

The Rise of Complexity in Nature
Author: Eric J. Chaisson
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674009875
Category: Science
Page: 274
View: 5974
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We are connected to distant space and time not only by our imaginations but also through a common cosmic heritage. Emerging now from modern science is a unified scenario of the cosmos, including ourselves as sentient beings, based on the time-honored concept of change. From galaxies to snowflakes, from stars and planets to life itself, we are beginning to identify an underlying ubiquitous pattern penetrating the fabric of all the natural sciences--a sweepingly encompassing view of the order and structure of every known class of object in our richly endowed universe. This is the subject of Eric Chaisson's new book. In Cosmic Evolution Chaisson addresses some of the most basic issues we can contemplate: the origin of matter and the origin of life, and the ways matter, life, and radiation interact and change with time. Guided by notions of beauty and symmetry, by the search for simplicity and elegance, by the ambition to explain the widest range of phenomena with the fewest possible principles, Chaisson designs for us an expansive yet intricate model depicting the origin and evolution of all material structures. He shows us that neither new science nor appeals to nonscience are needed to understand the impressive hierarchy of the cosmic evolutionary story, from quark to quasar, from microbe to mind.

The Five Stages of Collapse

Survivors' Toolkit
Author: Dmitry Orlov
Publisher: New Society Publishers
ISBN: 155092527X
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 288
View: 3896
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A user's guide to economic, political, social and cultural collapse.

Seducing Ourselves

Understanding Public Denial in a Declining Complex Society
Author: Donna L. Armstrong, Ph.d.,Donna L Armstrong Ph D
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 9781495933134
Category: Social Science
Page: 250
View: 9765
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Our large human brains evolved some 1.8 million years ago to facilitate social cohesion in small groups, supporting higher-order thinking as well as emotional cooperation as a survival strategy. But when written symbolic language, which developed as a result of agriculture and complexity, made possible the abstract group identity known as “the public,” we were seduced by collective support of the public identity to engage in environmentally maladaptive group “fictive play.” In Seducing Ourselves, you will encounter a wide range of intriguing concepts and ideas concerning complex societies, connecting together a vast multitude of topics—from evolutionary neurobiology and social psychology to the billions of US tax dollars that are going to the energy-intensive agricultural industry to produce the comfort foods behind the obesity epidemic. An epidemiologist by profession, Donna L. Armstrong's theories are distinctive within the fascinating literature of complex social collapse in making the important distinction between collective behavior and individual choice, and in the use of the United States as a case study to illustrate the stages of complex development and decline. A provocative yet hopeful “slow read,” Seducing Ourselves is an enormously important work for the sustainability and “transforming communities” movements.

Too Smart for Our Own Good

The Ecological Predicament of Humankind
Author: Craig Dilworth
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 052176436X
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 530
View: 364
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A groundbreaking work explaining our ecological predicament in the context of the first scientific theory of humankind's development.

The Seneca Effect

Why Growth is Slow but Collapse is Rapid
Author: Ugo Bardi
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319572075
Category: Science
Page: 209
View: 9951
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The essence of this book can be found in a line written by the ancient Roman Stoic Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca: "Fortune is of sluggish growth, but ruin is rapid". This sentence summarizes the features of the phenomenon that we call "collapse," which is typically sudden and often unexpected, like the proverbial "house of cards." But why are such collapses so common, and what generates them? Several books have been published on the subject, including the well known "Collapse" by Jared Diamond (2005), "The collapse of complex societies" by Joseph Tainter (1998) and "The Tipping Point," by Malcom Gladwell (2000). Why The Seneca Effect? This book is an ambitious attempt to pull these various strands together by describing collapse from a multi-disciplinary viewpoint. The reader will discover how collapse is a collective phenomenon that occurs in what we call today "complex systems," with a special emphasis on system dynamics and the concept of "feedback." From this foundation, Bardi applies the theory to real-world systems, from the mechanics of fracture and the collapse of large structures to financial collapses, famines and population collapses, the fall of entire civilzations, and the most dreadful collapse we can imagine: that of the planetary ecosystem generated by overexploitation and climate change. The final objective of the book is to describe a conclusion that the ancient stoic philosophers had already discovered long ago, but that modern system science has rediscovered today. If you want to avoid collapse you need to embrace change, not fight it. Neither a book about doom and gloom nor a cornucopianist's dream, The Seneca Effect goes to the heart of the challenges that we are facing today, helping us to manage our future rather than be managed by it.

Rome and the Classic Maya

Comparing the Slow Collapse of Civilizations
Author: Rebecca Storey,Glenn R Storey
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1315309394
Category: Social Science
Page: 292
View: 3034
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This volume compares two of the most famous cases of civilizational collapse, that of the Roman Empire and the Classic Maya world. First examining the concept of collapse, and how it has been utilized in the historical, archaeological and anthropological study of past complex societies, Storey and Storey draw on extensive archaeological evidence to consider the ultimate failure of the institutions, infrastructure and material culture of both of these complex cultures. Detailing the relevant economic, political, social and environmental factors behind these notable falls, Rome and the Classic Maya contends that a phenomenon of “slow collapse” has repeatedly occurred in the course of human history: complex civilizations are shown to eventually come to an end and give way to new cultures. Through their analysis of these two ancient case studies, the authors also present intriguing parallels to the modern world and offer potential lessons for the future.