Generational Theory and Archetypes (Part 1) | Podcast 0466

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In this episode of the Personality Hacker podcast, Joel and Antonia talk about Strauss and Howe’s work on Generational Theory and how it might help us understand current world conditions.


In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Why do people show up the way they do?
    • What are some common interactions between the generations: Boomers, Gen-X and Millennials?
    • What is happening with the Gen-X generation right now?
    • Which generation is currently setting the dominant values and which generation is fighting to assert theirs?
  • How can generational theory help us understand our world?
    • Listen to our podcast, Generational Theory with Jessie Newburn, to learn more.
    • Why some people have resistance towards generational theory.
    • How can generational theory actually give a sense of relief about the current state of the world?
  • How are the generation divisions created?
  • Generational theory: the overall framework
    • What discoveries did Neil Howe and William Strauss make that are the basis for generational theory?
    • What are the markers of the 4 seasons in generational theory?
    • Examples of the 4 seasons from the most recent history.
    • Which time period are we in right now?
    • What kind of archetypal energy is common for the time period we are in right now?
  • A little piece of understanding that generational theory provides that may bring you a bit of solace about the current state of the world.


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Showing 8 comments
  • Rebecca Mielke

    I love this stuff! Thank you for sharing more and deeper on the topic of the generations!

    Generational Theory has given me a helpful model for how I fit into the world. As an older Gen X (b 1963), I have resented being lumped in with Boomers, as I never really identified with that outlook on life. Then, as I moved into midlife, I could not understand why the institutions I was a part of never allowed me the influence I felt I had earned. Knowing I am actually Gen X, from your earlier podcast years ago, helped me to move on from that expectation and focus on what I can create.

    Now, what I am hearing from my friends my age is a kind of sudden realization that we need to step up in a self-sacrificial way in order to help our kids and grandkids. Thanks for offering some practical ways of being able to do that!

  • Jay

    I really liked this explanation of generational theory. In fact it’s one of the clearer explanations that I’ve seen. I love your comment that all frameworks are constructs but some frameworks are useful.

    As an out loud and proud generation xer, I definitely feel what you’re talking about. I also think that there’s a sense in the unraveling of what happens if I’m on the losing side of the unraveling? It’s funny how each side of the political spectrum thinks they’re on the potential losing side in the face of the juggernaut opposition.

    My slight tweak to generational Theory personally is that it has to do less with birth year and more when people come of age and become aware of the rules of the road if you will. For some people they learn the rules of the game in their early teens. Some do it in their mid teens. Some in their 20s. Some probably never. So, for example, it’s less about whether you’re born in 1965 or 1969 and much more about whether you have living memory of Vietnam or not. I was too young to remember anything about Vietnam but my friends who are just a few years older have very powerful memories of that event and that shaped how they viewed the world ever since.

  • Will (ENTP)

    This is super cool! I loved hearing your first podcasts on this, and as someone from Gen Z starting to make my way into the world, I’m super interested to hear what you guys have to say on the next episode!

  • Taylor

    I remember listening to the first podcast you guys did on Generational Theory back in 2015 I think, I really appreciated being introduced to this model and theory. I’ve read their books The Fourth Turning and Millennials Rising since, which, were interesting and did predict quite a few things.

    Another interesting, albeit dense read is “A Study of History” by Arnold Toynbee; he looked at the rise and fall of 19 world civilizations and found that they did so in predictable cycles.

    Thanks again!

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thank you Taylor for sharing you experience and for suggesting that book.

  • Lauren Losson

    Oh, boy! You lost me big-time on this one! I’m 74 and you just put me in a box! Too binary thinking!

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thanks for the feedback Lauren. Tell me more. How do you feel put in a box? I’m curious to hear more about your experience.

    • Taylor

      Lauren I think the point was models are approximations not absolutes. There are always individuals who do not fit the pattern.

      I live in Southern California. Generally speaking its 80 in the summer, 60 in the winter. But occasionally we have 90 degree days in January. The seasonal averages are not an absolute when you look at individual days but its certainly a pattern when you zoom out and look at all the days together.

      Generational theory is about observing how when you add all the individuals together of a generational cohort, certain patterns emerge because behavior is often determined by circumstance. I think, as Antonia and Joel pointed out as well, a lot of people form their life philosophy in the first half of life, then spend the second half preserving it. Whatever the conditions were in the first half of life are reflected in that philosophy.

      There’s a pretty simple reason for this; you get married, have kids, build your career in the first half of life. Changing your life philosophy means changing the fundamentals all those things were built on, which is not always possible without dismantling your whole life.

      Not everyone will espouse the characteristics of their generation, but enough that observable patterns emerge. And I suppose taking note of these patterns is important much in the way its important to take note of seasons–it helps you prepare for or make sense of the ebbs and flows of time.

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