The Saeculum Generational Theory of Strauss & Howe

generally in archaeological order (newer stuff on top, older below)


  • When did the Fourth Turning (Crisis) start?
  • Can participants of an era, of a turning analyze it’s properties?
  • How far away from an era must observers get before understanding it is meaningful?
  • What is the shortest timescale under which an era can be sensed (are half-generations nameable, meaningful)?
  • Can someone who is outside of a given life phase actually understand another life phase in some other way than a “bag of numbers” approach via checkbox interrogatories sampled across the law of large numbers?
  • Is it possible to think beyond 20-year time horizons in principled and consistent ways?


  • 2001-09-11 => World Trade Center & Pentagon Attacks
  • 2002-03 => Internet Bubble 1.0 pops, various terrorist atacks
  • 2003-03 => Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • 2004 => various earthquakes, bombings, storms
  • 2005 => Katrina Floods New Orleans
  • 2006 => North Korea nuclear tests
  • 2007 => Minneapolis 35W bridge collapse, EF5 tornado destroys Greensburg KS
  • 2008 => Financial Crisis


  • Life Phases
    • Childhood => 0-20
    • Young Adult => 21-41
    • Midlife => 42-62
    • Elderhood => 63-83
    • Late Elderhood => 84+
  • Seasons
    Ordering: High -> Awakening -> Unraveling -> Crisis

    • High => First Turning
    • Awakening => Second Turning
    • Unraveling => Third Turning
    • Crisis => Fourth Turning
  • Archetypes
    Ordering: Prophet -> Nomad -> Hero -> Artist (rinse & repeat)

    • Prophet => Idealist
    • Nomad => Reactive
    • Hero => Civic
    • Artist => Adaptive
  • Generations
    • Homeland => Artist (also Generation Z, Post-Gen, New Silent)
    • Millennial => Hero (also Generation Y)
    • Generation X => Nomad (also Generation 13)
    • Boomers => Prophet
    • Silent => Artist
    • GI => Hero
    • Lost => Nomad
    • Missionary => Prophet
  • Turnings
    • Current Era (unnamed)
      • 2008+ through 2025
      • Fourth Turning => Crisis
    • Reagan Revolution/Culture Wars
      • 1982-2006
      • Third Turning => Unraveling
    • Consciousness Revolution
      • 1961-1981
      • Second Turning => Awakening
    • Postwar Boom
      • 1946-1960
      • First Turning => High
    • Great Depression/World War II
      • 1925-1945
      • Fourth Turning => Crisis
  • Slices for Generation X
    • For The Crisis 2008-2025
      • Elderhood => Boomers who are Prophets.
      • Midlife => Generation X who are Nomads.
      • Young Adults=> Millennial who are Heros.
      • Childhood => Homeland who are Artists.
    • Nomad Life Experiences
      • Childhood => Consciousness Revolution (1964-1981), which was an Awakening.
      • Young Adult => Reagan Revolution/Culture Wars (1982-2000), which was an Unraveling.
      • Midlife => Current Era (2001-2008 .. 2025), which is a Crisis.
      • Elderhood => Next Era (2025+), which is a High.
Prophet Nomad Hero Artist
High Childhood Elderhood Midlife Young Adult
Awakening Young Adult Childhood Elderhood Midlife
Unraveling Midlife Young Adult Childhood Elderhood
Crisis Elderhood Midlife Young Adult Childhood

Generations in Anglo-American History

Generation Birth Years Famous Member Era in which Members Came of Age Archetype
Man Woman
Missionary 1860–1882 Franklin Roosevelt Emma Goldman Third Great Awakening Prophet
Lost 1883–1900 Harry Truman Dorothy Parker World War I & Prohibition Nomad
G.I. 1901–1924 John Kennedy Katharine Hepburn Depression & World War II Hero
Silent 1925–1942 Martin Luther King, Jr. Sandra Day O’Connor American High Artist
Boom 1943–1960 George W. Bush Hillary Clinton Consciousness Revolution Prophet
Generation X 1961–1981 Barack Obama Sarah Palin Long Boom & Culture Wars Nomad
Millennial 1982–2004 Mark Zuckerberg Anne Hathaway Global Financial Crisis Hero
Homelanders 2005-

See Generations of Anglo-American History, LifeCourse Associates

Implications & Derivations

  • <quote>In midlife, Nomads mellow into pragmatic and savvy leaders during a Crisis. Middle-aged Nomads make the personal sacrifices for the good of society that their elder Prophets weren’t willing to make during the Unraveling. The Nomads’ cunning and survival instincts make them well-suited to lead during a Fourth Turning. Many of America’s most memorable military, government, and business leaders were scrappy midlife Nomads (e.g. Generals Patton and Grant).</quote> ref


Overview, Review & Survey

Corpus & Canon

Paul Taylor (Pew Research Center); The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown; Public Affairs; 2014-03-04; 288 pages; kindle: $15, paper: $18; promotional site.
Paul Taylor, Executive Vice President of Special Projects at the Pew Research Center.

Neil Howe, William Strauss; The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy; Broadway Books; 1997-12-29; 400 pages; promotional site; a copy.

Neil Howe, William Strauss; Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069; Quill; 1992-09-30; 538 pages.

Press & Promotions


Jean Twenge

  • Contrary

Embodied Cognition

  • Probably
  • What you experience physically shapes you think, what thoughts you can think.

r/K Selection Theory

  • The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics: How Conservatism and Liberalism Evolved Within Humans; Anonymous Conservative; Federalist Publications; 2012-02-17; 280 pages; kindle: $10, paper: $26
  • Strauss and Howe’s Generational Theory, in the Context of r/K Theory; Anonymous Conservative; In Some Blog; 2013-06-14.
    • Definition: r/K Selection Theory
      • r-selection species spread parental investment across many offspring,
      • K-selected species focus theirs on a few.
    • Explanation: r/K Selection Theory
    • Analogical Reasoning <quote>
      • Crisis is r-psychologies confronted by the shortage of K-selection. This turmoil produces an adaptive shift in the population’s psychology towards a more K-selected, politically Conservative psychology.
      • High is the environment of r-selected resource excess that is produced by a majority K-selected populace, living in an environment where these rewards are enjoyed by those who produce them.
      • Awakening and Unraveling are just the leftists gradually increasing in number due to the r-selection, and fucking up a good thing until it all falls apart, and the Crisis returns.
  • The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics; a Book Review; in some blog; 2014-01-20.
    tl;dr => critical; <quote>bings back social Darwinism like it never went out of style.</quote><quote>Whether or not his neurological and psychological theories are entirely true, it’s a promising rhetorical strategy. It dehumanizes the left, fosters cohesion among the K-selected where there would be instead be competition for the diminished pool of resources, and tampers with the tendency among right-wingers to feel excessive levels of mercy, pity, and restraint towards rival populations who seek to subvert and destroy them.</quote>


richparents (Pew Research Center); Chart of the Week: Do firefighters or musicians have richer parents?; In Their Blog; 2014-03-21.

iGen? Homelanders? The Next Generation Needs a Name; Meghan Neal; In Motherboard; 2014-03-14.

Source: North Coast Investment Research, appearing in After Millennials

LifeCourse Associates; General Archetypes

LifeCourse Associates; General Archetypes