184 – Societal Complexity and Collapse

(average: 4.44)

Guest: Joseph Tainter    Host: Markus Voelter    Shownoter: Jochen Spalding

Joseph Tainter, our guest in this episode, is an anthropologist and historian. In 1988 he wrote a book called The Collapse of Complex Societies in which he argues that societies inevitably increase their inherent complexity, and, if and when the complexity becomes too “expensive” (diminishing returns), a society will collapse. In this episode, Joe explains his rationale and provides historic examples for collapse. We then discuss his theory relative today’s world, concluding with a not alltogether positive outlook.



Todays guest: Joseph Tainter | Podcast recommendation: Aircrew Interview | Survey | Please send feedback to feedback@omegataupodcast.net | Listener meeting! Follow Omegatau on Twitter and Facebook for more information.

As Always The Guest Introduces Himself


Joseph Tainter on Youtube | University of California, Berkeley

Definiton of Complexity in Scocieties


Agricultural Revolution | Industrial Revolution

Is Collapse a good or a bad thing and do we make progress after it happened in the long run?


Dark Ages (historiography) | French Revolution

About Today's Societies


"Will we use our knowledge?" | EROI Energy return of investment | Deborah Strumsky | José Lobo | Just-in-Time Manufacturing and Logistics | Jared Diamond (The myths of Easter Island – Jared Diamond responds)  | Easter Islands | "People think short term and locally" | Herbert Simon | Collapse in Mesopotamia

Ending on a Positive Note