This article proposes to acknowledge the decline, roughly since the 1950s, in the role of literature as a major mechanism of life models, whether conservative or innovatory, and consequently to reevaluate the rationale of continuing literary studies as they are practiced today. This alleged decline does not mean that nonpractical texts, whether written or oral, have lost their various and often indispensable functions for socialization, developing skills, or emotional intelligence. It essentially means that the centrality of the sociopolitical role fulfilled by such texts – and not less significantly by its producers and promoters – has now shifted to other industries. At the same time, in the context of intergroup competition for status based on the possession of symbolic goods, literature seems to have preserved its prestige value.

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