Strauss-Howe Generational Theory

The Strauss-Howe Generational Theory describes a recurring cycle of age cohorts called ‘generations’ with specific patterns of behaviour that are regarded as intertwined with the history of the United States of America.

This theory is not linked to any specific religious movement, but it could be seen as an example of secular millenarianism in the USA. It is a popular theory with political figures on the ‘alt-right’ of America, such as Steve Bannon, the executive chair of Breitbart News. The theory is based on the work of William Strauss (1947–2007) an American author, playwright, theatre director, and lecturer. His collaborator Neil Howe (b. 1951) has had a varied career as a consultant and popular historian. Together, they created and developed the theory over many publications, beginning with Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069 (1991).

According to this theory, every 80 years is a crucial ‘fourth turning’ of generations in American history. The ‘fourth turning’ is necessarily marked by a crisis that has destroyed the social order and created a new one, after which a new cycle commences. According to contemporary proponents of this theory, we are currently in the (approximately) twenty-year period of ‘crisis’ which will determine a new social order.