• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The SAGE Handbook of Environmental Change is an extensive survey of the interdisciplinary science of environmental change that examines the historic importance and future development of the field over two volumes. With over 40 chapters, the books situate key arguments and debates by examining a retrospective audit of the discipline, its changing nature and diversity of approaches, key theoretical paradigms, its resonances between sub-fields and other disciplines, and its relationships to theory, research and practice. Global in its coverage, scientific and theoretical in its approach, the books bring together an international set of respected editors and contributors to provide an exciting, timely addition to the literature on climate change.

Complexity, Causality and Collapse: Social Discontinuity in History and Prehistory
Complexity, causality and collapse: Social discontinuity in history and prehistory
1 Introduction

Collapse is a recurrent feature of complex human societies. The term itself is somewhat contested, meaning different things to different people, but has been generally defined as a process of marked sociopolitical simplification from an established level of complexity (Tainter, 1990: 4). Societal collapse can be manifest in regional abandonment, population decline, the long-term fragmentation of sociopolitical and economic structures, the replacement of one subsistence base by another or conversion to a lower energy sociopolitical organisation (Weiss and Bradley, 2001). While some have argued that the process must be rapid, taking place over time scales of a few decades (Tainter, 1990), longer-term trends of socioeconomic ...

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