I find the study of generations to be exceedingly interesting. Wikipedia has a great Strauss and Howe page.
Here’s a bit of it:
Generations last the length of time of one phase of life–the same length of time as a turning. Like turnings, generations also come in four different archetypes, defined in “The Fourth Turning” as Prophet, Nomad, Hero and Artist.
- Prophets are values-driven, moralistic, focused on self, and willing to fight to the death for what they believe in. They grow up as the increasingly indulged children of a High, come of age as the young crusaders of an Awakening, enter midlife as moralistic leaders during an Unravelling and are the wise, elder leaders of the next Crisis. The Boomers are an example of a Prophet generation.
- Nomads are ratty, tough, unwanted, diverse, adventurous, and cynical about institutions. They grow up as the underprotected children of an Awakening, come of age as the alienated young adults of an Unravelling, become the pragmatic, midlife leaders of a Crisis and age into tough, post-crisis elders during a High. Generation X and the Lost Generation are examples of Nomad generations.
- Heroes are conventional, powerful, and institutionally driven, with a profound trust in authority. They grow up as the increasingly protected children of an Unraveling, come of age as the Heroic, team-working youth of a Crisis, become energetic and hubristic mid-lifers during a High and become the powerful elders who are attacked in the next Awakening. The G.I. Generation that fought World War II is an example of a Hero generation. Millennials are expected to emerge as the next generation of this example if all goes well.
- Artists are subtle, indecisive, emotional and compromising, often having to deal with feelings of repression and inner conflict. They grow up as the over-protected children of a Crisis, come of age as the sensitive young adults of a High, rebel as indecisive midlife leaders during an Awakening, and become the empathic elders of an Unravelling. The Silent Generation is an example of an Artist generation.
The Wikipedia page has lots of links to more information on the writings of Strauss and Howe.