Generations (book)

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"Generations: Baby Boomers, their Parents & their Children" is a 1997 book by Hugh Mackay describing three Australian generations.

William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their books Generations (ISBN 0-688-11912-3) (1991) and The Fourth Turning (1997), divide Anglo-American history into saecula, or seasonal cycles of history. This article describes their theory, which is unsupported by academic historians.[1] These saecula are further divided into generations by birth year and are classified as one of four types of generations or historical periods. Since the 15th century, the only exception to the "four-season" cycle was the Civil War saeculum, when the generation type jumped from Reactive to Adaptive with no Civic generation.


[edit] Stages

According to Howe and Strauss, just as history molds generations, so do generations mold history. Modern Anglo-American history runs on a two-stroke rhythm. The two strokes are an Awakening and a Crisis.

Awakening. During an Awakening, rising adults are driven by inner zeal to become philosophers, religious pundits, and hippies, thereby alienating children (who see the adult world becoming more chaotic each day) and older generations alike. Civil order comes under attack from a new values regime. Examples of Awakening eras include the Protestant Reformation (1517-1542), the Puritan Awakening (1621-1649), the Great Awakening (1727-1746), the Second Great Awakening (1822-1844), the Third Great Awakening (1886-1908), and the Consciousness Revolution (1964-1984). Seen as a tumultuous time, somewhat echoing a "Crisis".

Unraveling. An Unraveling is an era of relative peace and prosperity between an Awakening and a Crisis. The most recent Unraveling was seen between The Consciousness Revolution and the time just before September 11 (1985-2001?), a time of paradigm shifting. Seen as a positive time, somewhat echoing a "High".

Crisis. A Crisis is a decisive era of secular upheaval. The values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one. Wars are waged with apocalyptic finality. Examples of Crisis eras include the Wars of the Roses (1459-1487), the Spanish Armada Crisis (1569-1594), the colonial Glorious Revolution (1675-1704), the American Revolution (1773-1794), the American Civil War (1860-1865), and the twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II (1932-1945), and now speculatively the present time from September 11, 2001.

High. A High is an era between a Crisis and an Awakening. The most recent High was seen between World War II and the Consciousness Revolution.

[edit] Types of Generations

The four types of generations in their theory are as follows:

Prophet/Idealist. A Prophet (or Idealist) generation is born during a High, spends its rising adult years during an Awakening, spends midlife during an Unraveling, and spends old age in a Crisis. Prophetic leaders have been cerebral and principled, summoners of human sacrifice, wagers of righteous wars. Early in life, few saw combat in uniform; late in life, most come to be revered as much for their words as for their deeds.

Nomad/Reactive. A Nomad (or Reactive) generation is born during an Awakening, spends its rising adult years during an Unraveling, spends midlife during a Crisis, and spends old age in a new High. Nomadic leaders have been cunning, hard-to-fool realists, taciturn warriors who prefer to meet problems and adversaries one-on-one.

Hero/Civic. A Hero (or Civic) generation is born during an Unraveling, spends its rising adult years during a Crisis, spends midlife during a High, and spends old age in an Awakening. Heroic leaders are considered to have been vigorous and rational institution-builders, busy and competent in old age. All of them entering midlife were aggressive advocates of technological progress, economic prosperity, social harmony, and public optimism.

Artist/Adaptive. An Artist (or Adaptive) generation is born during a Crisis, spends its rising adult years in a new High, spends midlife in an Awakening, and spends old age in an Unraveling. Artistic leaders have been advocates of fairness and the politics of inclusion, irrepressible in the wake of failure.

[edit] List of Generations

Howe and Strauss characterize generations and their types as follows:

Generation Type Birth Years Description
Late Medieval Saeculum
Arthurian Generation Hero (Civic) 1433–1460
Humanist Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1461–1482
Reformation Saeculum
Reformation Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1483–1511
Reprisal Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1512–1540
Elizabethan Generation Hero (Civic) 1541–1565
Parliamentarian Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1566–1587
New World Saeculum
Puritan Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1588–1617
Cavalier Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1618–1647
Glorious Generation Hero (Civic) 1648–1673
Enlightenment Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1674–1700
Revolutionary Saeculum
Awakening Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1701–1723
Liberty Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1724–1741 First Great Awakening
Republican Generation Hero (Civic) 1742–1766
Compromise Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1767–1791
Civil War Saeculum
Transcendental Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1792–1821
Gilded Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1822–1842 Second Great Awakening
Progressive Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1843–1859
Great Power Saeculum
Missionary Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1860–1882
Lost Generation Nomad (Reactive) 1883–1900 Third Great Awakening
G.I. Generation Hero (Civic) 1901–1924
Silent Generation Artist (Adaptive) 1925–1942
Millennial Saeculum
(baby) Boom Generation Prophet (Idealist) 1943–1960
13th Generation (a.k.a Generation X)1 Nomad (Reactive) 1961–1981 The generation receives its name because it's the 13th to know the flag of the United States (counting back to the peers of Benjamin Franklin). Strauss and Howe defined the birth years of the 13th Generation as 1961 to 1981 based on examining peaks and troughs in cultural trends rather than simply looking at birth rates.[2] Howe and Strauss speak of six influences that they believe have shaped Generation 13. These influences are as follows:
  • Readily-accessible birth control
  • Legalization of abortion on demand
  • Increase in divorce
  • Increase in mothers in the work place
  • The Zero Population movement
  • "Devil-child films"
Millenial Generation2 Hero (Civic) 1982–2000 They first arrived when "Babies on Board" signs appeared. Many in this cohort grew along the rapid growth of technology and economic and social globalization. Also known as "Generation Y".
New Silent Generation 3 Artist (Adaptive) 2001– present This generation is the first to be born in a digital world and are currently in grade school.[3]

Note (1): Strauss and Howe use the name "13th Generation" instead of the more widely accepted "Generation X" in their book, which was published mere weeks before Douglas Coupland's Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture was. The generation is so numbered because it is the thirteenth generation alive since American Independence (counting back until Benjamin Franklin's). Some demographers have also referred to this group as the Baby Bust generation, a term that like Generation X has some definitional confusion.[citation needed]

Note (2): Although there is as yet no universally accepted name for this generation, "Millennials" is becoming widely accepted. Other names used in reference to it include Generation Y (as it is the generation following Generation X) and "The Net Generation." The Pepsi-Cola corporation attempted to brand this generation as "Generation Next" in an advertising campaign discarded in 1998.[citation needed]

Note (3): New Silent Generation was a proposed holding name used by Neil Howe and William Strauss in their demographic history of America, Generations, to describe the generation whose birth years began somewhere in the early 2000s and the ending point will be around the early 2020s. Howe and Strauss now refer to this generation (most likely currently being born) as the Homeland Generation.[citation needed]

Question marks in the table above indicate that the consensus generational boundary has not been defined yet in their theory, but generations are on average about 22 years in length, so approximations can be listed.

According to the above chart, generational types have appeared in Anglo-American history in a fixed order for more than 500 years, with one hiccup in the Civil War Saeculum. (The reasons for this is because according to the chart, the Civil War came about ten years too early; the adult generations allowed the worst aspects of their generational personalities to come through; and the Progressives grew up scarred rather than ennobled.)

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Giancola, Frank (2006). "The Generation Gap: More Myth than Reality". Human Resource Planning. 
  2. ^ Strauss, William & Howe, Neil. Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069. Perennial, 1992 (Reprint). ISBN 0-688-11912-3
  3. ^ [1]

[edit] External links

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