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Generational Theory: Strauss-Howe

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Alyse Cox

on 12 October 2014

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Transcript of Generational Theory: Strauss-Howe

Generational Theory: Strauss-Howe
A process rather than a single stage. It takes the situation of culture and extreme lifestyles above with distrust in big companies and society. The beginning of this era starts strong culturally. However, as the original revolutionaries grow older they lose their revolutionary beliefs and go back towards more traditional views. The pessimism in this era is almost a "hangover" from the cultural richness.
How does this relate to identity?
The basics...
William Strauss & Neil Howe think society turns on a repeating set of four 20yr stages in an approximately 80yr cycle.

They argue that there are no "good" or "bad" generations.

Each generation is unique and serves a purpose at the appropriate time in history.

This is typically a time of a strong economy where corporations are strong and there is little individualism. Generally however people are happy within this period and are content as society seems together in knowing the way forward.
As the name suggests this period is normally a crisis, sometimes war, sometimes economical where society is broken down due to a threat to the nations integrity. Not all "crisis" fall into this category, "crisis" happen all of the time. What categorises this section is when the crisis causes change, the public want change and this crisis give the opportunity for that change to happen.
Where are we now?
Strauss-Howe Generation theory currently predicts that we are in a Crisis period, this is due to the war on terror and the 2008 financial crisis, the period is not over yet so we don't know if there are any more parts to this crisis. We are currently only at year 13 in this period. Strauss-Howe's predictions suggest that when this period ends we will change to a High
The awakening is the period after the high, this is a reaction to the situation above of restricted individualism, the number of those outside the norm grow and they feel alienated. In this period there is a cultural or religious revolution normally led by the youth looking for this individuality.
There are four successive stages:

With four generational "types" which repeat in order:
Prophet or Idealist (eg Baby Boomers)
Nomad or Reactive (eg Gen X)
Hero or Civic (eg Millennials)
Artist or Adaptive (eg silent Gen)
What is a generation?
Collection of all people born over a span of roughly twenty years, or about the length of one phase of life:
Young adulthood
Old age

These people share three criteria:
Encounter the same key historical events and social trends whilst occupying the same phase of life.
Share some common beliefs and behaviours.
Identify with their generation as a unique group.
The stage that you are born and grow up into reflects what kind of person you are likely to be and your traits as you grow up.
The Idealist/Prophet
Born near the end of a crisis or at the beginning of a high.
Grow into the "new order" created by the crisis. They see that whilst times are good in terms of money they also recognise the lack of culture or individuality.
As youngsters, they are the crusaders of the Awakening.
The latest of these is the Baby Boomers born just after WW2. This generation has become the most successful generation, they became the overall wealthiest generation yet and are better off than their parents. Typically, this generation are prepared to work hard to achieve and have found that this normally will pay off, hence the idealist tag.
Generation brought up during an awakening, they generally have far less social restrictions than their parents had at the same age.
Reactive generations tend to be independent and progressive in their youth and tend to become highly educated.
They are commonly seen as the "bad/naughty" stage, however this often is because they are attempting to copy their previous generation with revolution however their revolution fails to materialise as society is now beginning a slow unraveling.
This generation has the opinion that they too will be able to be "better off" than their elders, however as they become middle aged during a crisis and thus find it difficult to keep to this dream as they find that they good education does not meet job security like it did for the Prophets.
This generation has the name Nomad because they miss out on being part of the Awakening but at the same time are not the driving force behind the change at the end of a crisis. This stage is those who are currently in their 40's often coined as "Generation x"
Those born during the unraveling.
Those born early in the period may still feel the less social restrictions in their childhood, however the later in this period they are born the more restricted ("protected"). This often means a false sense of overconfidence.
Common other traits are entrepreneurial and having a feeling of social responsibility.
This group are then hit hardest as they come of age during a crisis (fighting in war or unable to find jobs if economical crisis).
This generation are key in rebuilding society in a new direction after the crisis and creating the stability of the high, hence the hero tag.
As this generation start to retire they witness another Awakening. The current example of this is "Millennial"/"Gen Y" of those who are now in their teens and 20's.
The last example of this was the "GI Generation", these were those who grew up during the great depression, fought in WW2, re-built afterward and then were "knocked down" in the cultural revolution.
Born during a crisis.
They are a generation smaller than the one before due to the hardships of the crisis.
They grow into the High where they are able to create careers in a time of low unemployment.
They tend to weather the cultural revolution quite well as they are already secure in having new families and steady jobs.
They retire during the unraveling and thus avoid being effected by many real hardships in their adulthood.
The last example of this generation were those born during the great depression who emerged into adulthood after WW2.
The Future?
If the Strauss-Howe theory holds strong then we should see a major change soon when the world comes out of the current crisis.

Howe has said that he thinks the real change will be in terms of Western countries realising their governments are spending far to much money that they don't have.
The result of this change will be the radical. People will have to take back control over their countries rather than the current situation of benefits, military's and bureaucracy.

It will be interesting to see if this hypothesis becomes a reality....
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