We have all heard the terms; baby boomers (1943-1960), Gen X (1961-1981), Gen Y (1982-2004) now more recently being called the Millenials… It makes you wonder how long have they been keeping track of the timing and the ‘turning’ of generations over the last 500 years? Where did the A to W go? And who gets Z?
The answers are available! According to Wikipedia, William Strauss and Neil Howe have researched and defined the ascendence of humanity roughly speaking over the last five centuries and have published books, courses and created generational archetypes, which continues to help us understand a big part of how we have developed our current perceptions of our culture and how our thinking can change over time.
Strauss and Howe’s first book, Generations (1991), tells the history of America as a succession of Anglo-American generational biographies from 1584 to the present, and identifies a recurring generational cycle in American history. The authors posit a pattern of four repeating phases, generational types and a recurring cycle of spiritual awakenings and secular crises, from the founding colonials through the present day.
Strauss and Howe followed in 1993 with their second book, 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?, which examines the generation born between 1961 and 1981, “Gen-Xers” (alias “13ers”, since they are literally the thirteenth generation since America became a nation). The book shows how 13ers’ location in history—they were children during the Consciousness Revolution—explains their pragmatic attitude.
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).
Although there is as yet no universally accepted name for this generation, “Millennials” (a name Strauss and Howe coined) 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.”
In 1997, the authors published The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy, which expanded on the ideas presented in Generations and extended their cycles back into the early 15th century. The authors began the use of more colorful names for generational archetypes – e.g. “Civics” became “Heroes,” “Adaptives” became “Artists” – and of the terms “Turning” and “Saeculum” for the generational cycles. The title is a reference to what their first book called a Crisis period, which they expected to recur soon after the turn of the millennium.
In 2000, the two authors published Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. This work investigated the personality of the generation currently coming of age, whose first cohorts were the high school graduating class of 2000. Strauss and Howe show how today’s teens and young adults are recasting the image of youth from downbeat and alienated to upbeat and engaged.
They write that Millennials are held to higher standards than adults apply to themselves; they’re a lot less violent, vulgar, and sexually charged than the teen culture older people are producing for them. Over the next decade, they will transform what it means to be young.
According to the authors, Millennials could emerge as the next great generation.
For more info about the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory check out the following link to Wikipedia;