The Deferred-Gratification Pattern
This consists of postponing immediate satisfaction in order to gain some later goal. Saving one's money to go to college or to start. a' business is an example. The students who are now studying this textbook instead of playing poker or I goofing off" are' practicing the deferred-gratification pattern (DCP). The middle class may have the most to gain through the DCP. The upper class has little need defer gratification, for it needs only to retain positions already held. There' is evidence that lower-class persons more often have a short-term perspective and less often follow the DCP [Miller, Riessman, and Seagull, 1969J. This is not surprising, for persons whose grasp upon jobs and income are short term are likely to have short-term plans and values. As Allison Davis noted almost a half century ago: Ambition and the drive to attain the higher skills are a kind of luxury. They require a minimum physical security; only when one knows where his next week's or next month's food and shelter will come from, can he and his children afford to go in for the long-term education and training, the endless search Cur opportunities and the tedious apple-polishing that the attainment of higher skills and occupational status requires. (Auison Davis, quoted in William Foote Whyte (ed.), Industry and Society, McGraw-Hili Book Company, New York, 1946, p. 89.) Yet judging from the upward mobility shown in Figure IS-I, there seem to be many lower class persons who do defer gratification and plan for the future. , Some scholars reject the DCP as a clever defense for inequality. Chambliss, for example, ridicules the idea that college students are deferring gratification by attending comfortable colleges instead of doing grubby work in mines, factories, and car washes [1973, pp. 10-11). He misses the point. The deferment" of gratification lies not in attending college (which can be very leisurely)but) in the long,'" hard study hours of the ambitious student. Not' everyone who attends 'College is practicing the DQP.