About the Book
This book chronicles changes in the social, political and foreign affairs of the United States since 1945 and the cyclical forces which drove them. Trust in government has steadily eroded while other measures of social order have also fluctuated. Shifts in secular issues relating to women and family, civil rights, crime, pop culture will be brought to life in this cyclical context. Overlapping cycles for political and foreign affairs will also be explored.
Cycles are part of nature, human life, and the social fabric of our country. Just as the four seasons progress sequentially through the year, so is there a rhythmic cadence to periods of social change in America. The periods of the cycle coincide with a distinctive social mood that were characterized by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their 1997 national best-selling book, The Fourth Turning as: Crisis, High, Awakening and Unraveling. The end of one period and the start of another is typically marked by a significant event that serves as a catalyst to permanently shift the mood of the country.
Crisis period – “a decisive era secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.”
High period – “an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism, when a new civic order implants and the old values regime decays.”
Awakening period – “a passionate era of social and spiritual upheaval, when the civic order comes under attack from a new values regime.”
Unraveling period – “a downbeat era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values regime implants.”
Source: Strauss and Howe, The Fourth Turning
Each generation has a unique role in shaping these periods and triggering the shift to the next. Each period is about eighteen to twenty years and coincides with the start of a new phase of life for each generation; youth (0-20), coming-of-age (20-40), mid-life (40-60), senior stage (60-80). The life events and persona of the post-war generations will be examined: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials (Gen Y), and Gen Z. The period is best known for the generation that “comes of age” at that time. (ie: The Baby Boomers in the 60’s)
Millennials (Gen Y)
Pop culture in the form of films, music, and literature echo the persona of each generation and reflect the collective ethos that they create. We will explore how pop culture shifts along with the period of the cycle and embodies the prevailing mood of the time.
The Breakfast Club
Millennials (Gen Y)
The Big Lebowski
America has been immersed in a ‘Crisis’ period since September 11, 2001. Our social, political and foreign policy viewpoints have witnessed seismic shifts. Multiple traumas have united us while political polarization has divided us. “Heroes’ have taken on a renewed importance.
But this ‘Crisis’ period will end soon and we will enter a new American ‘High’ period, reminiscent of the period after WWII until the Kennedy assassination, but imbued with all the progress and changes since then. This shift could occur in conjunction with the 2020 presidential election and help extinguish the political polarization that has divided the country for too long.
Gen X, Millennials, and an emerging Gen Z will drive this new era forward, with their unique persona and role to play. Baby Boomers will recede from prominence, having made their contribution to social and political change in America. In comparison to the most recent 50+ years of social and political turmoil, this new ‘High’ period will be a time of greater optimism, cooperation, and community.