Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version

Delay of want satisfaction is a common feature of choices; that is, individuals make choices in which both costs and benefits are spread over time. It used to be received knowledge that the lower socioeconomic strata were less concerned with the future and had low achievement orientation, whereas the higher classes knew of deferred or delayed gratification and were highly achievement oriented. Max Weber (1930) argued that the monastic way of life in the Occident had become "a systematic method of rational conduct with the purpose of overcoming the status naturae " by not yielding to emotional impulses. With the Reformation, this form of active asceticism was no longer restricted to religious virtuosi, and the devout had to be "monks" all their lives. The ethics of particular Protestant groups (e.g., puritanism) were one long exercise in imposing selfcontrol and delay of gratification. Weber also pointed out the significance of this inner-worldly asceticism or the extreme delay in consumption of the Protestants for the rise of capitalism.

See also Protestant Ethic, Max Weber

Durk H. Hak


G. Loewenstein and J. Elster (eds.), Choice over Time (New York: Russell Sage, 1992); M. Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Scribner, 1930).

J. D. Thompson and A. Tuden, "Strategies, Structures, and Processes of Organizational Decision," in Comparative Studies in Administration , ed. J. D. Thompson et al. (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1959): 195-216.

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