The Strauss-Howe Generational Theory asserts that human history is divided into several series of four-part cycles, each quarter of a cycle being called a Turning. A Turning lasts an average of 20 years, during which a corresponding generation, also distinguished at a 20-year interval, comes of age and has its own impact on its nation.
Generations behave differently depending on which type of Turning they were born and came of age in.
A cycle consisting of four Turnings lasts an average of 80 years, which is also the average lifespan of a generation, so each generation on average sees four Turnings within its lifespan.
There are four types of Turning:
During a High, a new establishment is instituted to replace the one destroyed in the most recent crisis. Community is valued, and order and progress are encouraged at the expense of the individual. The population turns its focuses towards the betterment of society as a whole rather than exploring individuality or pursuing newer ideals. Young adults during the High at large tend to be the most reserved and contented, seeking to quickly integrate into society and pursue lives based on social standards.
A good example of a High would be the 1950s in the US.
During an Awakening, the population is invigorated to pursue individuality and further new human ideals. The population turns its attention to reforming the rigid establishment created during the previous High. The goal of an awakening is to reform society in favor of the individual, so activism and demonstrations are most common during Awakenings. The generation that comes of age during this time is considered most “youthful.”
During the previous Awakening, ideals of individualism were integrated. An Unraveling is basically the opposite of a High. Rather than a time of challenging the establishment, paranoia over a restrictive society is a widespread norm. Unravelings are times of indulgence in a sense: in a Crisis, resources and security disappeared and a High was needed to replenish them at the expense of personal freedoms, freedoms regained during Awakenings; during Unravelings, both are in high supply. The only real downside is that it can only go downward from here…
The Big 80s was an Unraveling.
O God of Earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry:
Our Earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die,
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
Take away our pride
Crisis. A huge disaster threatens the nation, and society is forced to restructure towards collectivism in order to combat the threat. Everyone starts thinking civically, taxes go up, the police bulks up, the army gets tougher and starts blowing stuff up. Pretty likely to happen in times of war. Community overshadows the individual because of “any port in a storm” mentality which is responsible half of all the injustices in history.
The Great Depression and WWII were a Crisis in the US.
There are four types of generation, each growing up as a child in one turning and living as an young adult and having their influence in the world in the next.
Born around the end of a Crisis and are children through a High. Live as young adults during an Awakening, in which they lead the charge as idealistic rebels and reformers.
The Baby Boomers were Prophets. They became the Hippies in the 60s and led to this decade’s reforms.
Born and grow up as children during Awakening. Come of age as young adults in an Unraveling, where they live disillusioned with the establishment, are alienated, and pursue lives of individualism more subtly than the Prophets before.
X-Gen was a Nomad.
Born and raised as overprotected children of an Unraveling. Heroes are community-oriented and interdependent and take charge during Crises, when they come of age as adults.
The “Greatest Gen” of WWII, as well as the Millennials (Y-gen).
Born and raised during a Crisis. Come of age as young adults during a High, where they work as interdependently as the Heroes before, but a lot more quietly. They focus a lot more on social norms and a nation’s security rather than fending off a Crisis.
The “Homeland Generation,” beginning in 2005 and extending to the present day, is an Artist.
There are also “Dominant” and “Recessive” generations. Generations that take more aggressive action are called Dominant, while the more passive generations are called Recessive.
Prophets and Heroes are Dominant. They took action more independently.
Nomads and Artists are Recessive. They acted more subtly.
I propose that Dominant vs Recessive could be compared to Extroversion vs Introversion.
Keeping that in mind, in addition to Dominant and Recessive, generations can also be divided in half by their attitudes as well.
Artists and Heroes are more collectivist.
Nomads and Prophets are more individualist.
Individualist vs Collectivist can be compared to Feeling vs Thinking
So we can divide the four generations by combinations of characteristics and compare them to the Four Humours:
Prophet: Dominant Individualistic (Emotional Extrovert; Sanguine)
Nomad: Recessive Individualistic (Emotional Introvert; Phlegmatic)
Hero: Dominant Collectivist (Logical Extrovert; Choleric)
Artist: Recessive Collectivist (Logical Introvert; Melancholic)