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Terms like “Generation X” or “Lost Generation ” are quite popular, but may be not everyone is aware of the theory they originated from.
The Generations theory was introduced 1991 by William Straus and Neil How in their book Generations. Their bold theory is that each generation belongs to one of four types, and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern. Although the studies and observations were based on the American History, later on lots of parallels were found in other cultures. The theory suggests the following intervals:
- Lost Generation (1883–1900)
- Greatest Generation (1901–1924)
- Silent Generation (1925–1942)
- Baby Boomer (1943–1960)
- Generation X (1961–1981)
- Generation Y (1982–2001)
- Generation Z (2001–)
The repeating pattern:
Awakening. During an Awakening, rising adults are driven by inner zeal to become philosophers, religious pundits, and hippies, 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 11th (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 11th, 2001.