Lost Generation (1883–1900)
Greatest Generation (1901–1924)
Silent Generation (1925–1942)
Baby Boomer (1943–1960)
13th Generation/Generation X (1961–1981)
Millennial Generation/Generation Y (1982–2004)
Homeland Generation/Generation Z (2005–2025????)
Prophet generations (dominant) are born after a Crisis, during a time of rejuvenated community life and consensus around a new societal order. Prophets grow up as the increasingly indulged children of this post-Crisis era, come of age as self-absorbed young crusaders of an Awakening, focus on morals and principles in midlife, and emerge as elders guiding another Crisis. Due to this location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their coming-of-age fervor and their values-oriented elder leadership. Their main societal contributions are in the area of vision, values, and religion. Their best-known historical leaders include John Winthrop, William Berkeley, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Polk, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt. These were principled moralists who waged idealistic wars and incited others to sacrifice. Few of them fought themselves in decisive wars, and they are remembered more for their inspiring words than for great actions. (Example among today’s living generations: Boomers.)
Nomad generations (recessive) are born during an Awakening, a time of social ideals and spiritual agendas, when young adults are passionately attacking the established institutional order. Nomads grow up as under-protected children during this Awakening, come of age as alienated, post-Awakening adults, become pragmatic midlife leaders during a Crisis, and age into resilient post-Crisis elders Due to this location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their fast-paced, alienated rising-adult years and their midlife years of pragmatic leadership. Their main societal contributions are in the area of liberty, survival and honor. Their best-known historical leaders include Nathaniel Bacon, William Stoughton, George Washington, John Adams, Ulysses Grant, Grover Cleveland, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. These were shrewd realists who preferred individualistic, pragmatic solutions to problems. (Example among today’s living generations: Generation X.)
Hero generations (dominant) are born after an Awakening, during a time of individual pragmatism, self-reliance, and laissez faire. Heroes grow up as increasingly protected post-Awakening children, come of age as team-oriented young optimists during a Crisis, emerge as energetic, overly-confident midlifers, and age into politically powerful elders attacked by another Awakening. Due to this location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their collective military triumphs in young adulthood and their political achievements as elders. Their main societal contributions are in the area of community, affluence, and technology. Their best-known historical leaders include Cotton Mather, “King” Carter, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. These have been vigorous and rational institution builders. In midlife, all have been aggressive advocates of economic prosperity and public optimism, and all have maintained a reputation for civic energy and competence in old age. (Examples among today’s living generations: G.I.s and Millennials.)
Artist generations (recessive) are born during a Crisis, a time when great dangers cut down social and political complexity in favor of public consensus, aggressive institutions, and an ethic of personal sacrifice. Artists grow up overprotected by adults preoccupied with the Crisis, come of age as the socialized and conformist young adults of a post-Crisis world, break out as process-oriented midlife leaders during an Awakening, and age into thoughtful post-Awakening elders. Due to this location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their quiet years of rising adulthood and their midlife years of flexible, consensus-building leadership. Their main societal contributions are in the area of expertise and due process. Their best-known historical leaders include William Shirley, Cadwallader Colden, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. These have been complex social technicians and advocates for fairness and inclusion. (Examples among today’s living generations: Silent and Homelanders.)
Recent Turnings - Millennial Saeculum (73 + years)
American High - 1946-1963 (High/Spring)
Consciousness Revolution - 1963-1983 (Awakening/Summer)
Culture Wars - 1984-2008 (Unraveling/Fall)
Millennial Crisis - 2008-2030???? (Crisis/Winter)
High aka Spring
The First Turning is a High. This is a post-Crisis era when institutions are strong and individualism is weak. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, though those outside the majoritarian center often feel stifled by the conformity. America’s most recent First Turning was the post-World War II American High, beginning in 1946 and ending with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The Silent Generation (Artist archetype, born 1925 to 1942) came of age during this era. Known for their caution, conformity, and institutional trust, Silent young adults epitomized the mood of the High. Most married early, sought stable corporate jobs, and moved into new suburbs.
Awakening aka Summer
The Second Turning is an Awakening. This is an era when institutions are attacked in the name of personal and spiritual autonomy. Just when society is reaching its high tide of public progress, people suddenly tire of social discipline and want to recapture a sense of personal authenticity. Young activists look back at the previous High as an era of cultural and spiritual poverty. America’s most recent Awakening was the “Consciousness Revolution,” which spanned from the campus and inner-city revolts of the mid 1960s to the tax revolts of the early 1980s. The Boom Generation (Prophet archetype, born 1943 to 1963) came of age during this era. Their idealism and search for authentic self-expression epitomized the mood of the Awakening.
Unraveling aka Fall
The Third Turning is an Unraveling. The mood of this era is in many ways the opposite of a High: Institutions are weak and distrusted, while individualism is strong and flourishing. Highs come after Crises, when society wants to coalesce and build. Unravelings come after Awakenings, when society wants to atomize and enjoy. America’s most recent Unraveling was the Long Boom and Culture Wars, beginning in the early to mid 1980s and ending in the mid to late 2000s. The era began with a new ethic of individualism (Reagan’s “Morning in America”), which has developed into an edgy popular culture, a pervasive distrust of institutions and leaders, and the splitting of national consensus into competing “values” camps. Generation X (Nomad archetype, born 1961-1981) came of age during this era. Their risk-taking, free agency, and market orientation epitomized the mood of the Unraveling.
Crisis aka Winter
The Fourth Turning is a Crisis. This is an era in which America’s institutional life is destroyed and rebuilt in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s survival. Civic authority revives, cultural expression redirects towards community purpose, and people begin to locate themselves as members of a larger group. Fourth Turnings have all been new “founding moments” in America’s history, moments that redefined the national identity. America’s most recent Fourth Turning began with the stock market crash of 1929 and climaxed with the end of World War II. The G.I. Generation (Hero archetype, born 1914 to 1928) came of age during this era. Their confidence, optimism, and collective outlook epitomized the mood of the era. Today’s youth, the Millennial Generation (Hero archetype, born 1982 to 2004), show many traits similar to those of the G.I. youth, including rising civic engagement, improving behavior, and collective confidence.