Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Video: Tainter on "The Collapse of Complex Societies"

A while ago I read Joseph Tainter's "The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology)", which is an excellent book. It's quite academic, but easy to read at the same time. Now, for those who don't have the time, inclination or money to read the book, there's a great video of him giving a presentation on the same subject on YouTube.

It's in five parts, and well worth watching. He explains why societies become complex, and what this costs them in terms of resources and money, then goes on to discuss examples of why complexity contributed to the collapse of past societies. He concludes by relating this to our present society, which has only managed to survive an increase in complexity through the use of a subsidy - fossil fuels. Of course, the problem is that this subsidy is pretty much at its peak now, and will start to decline, therefore requiring a decline in our society's complexity...

Here's the videos (p.s. if they don't all display, just reload this page):


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