The idea of conflict in western modernity has been understood in two opposite ways. Sometimes the word conflict has been read as a propelling force of social change and sometimes even of progress; at times, instead, as an incident, a breakdown in the regular reproduction of society. The ones who considered it a positive factor not only strongly bet on the ability of individuals of improving together their life condition, but they also brought with them the basic image of a society to be achieved: a fair society, in which, in that moment, the social conflict would not have been necessary . Oppositely, the ones who underlined the negative aspects of social conflict pointed out the positive aspects of keeping social peace: a system could give its best results in conditions of firmness and self-reproduction in the course of time. The basic image of society which was brought in the latter case was less distant from the starting conditions and the integration of the different social actors' requests would have been an excellent accomplishment. Thus, the conditions of integration and social conflict were not only self-excluding to each other for the same system, but rather two distinct illusory views, two transformation-theories for many aspects diametrically opposite. Those who regarded the status quo as deeply inadeguate and unfair looked upon conflict, upon consciousness raising about their own condition of being oppressed (the class for its own) and upon the fight to oust the oppressor the main instrument to gain justice and equality among individuals. The other ones, instead, considered the differentiation of roles, tasks and power an excellent model of social organization supported by a strong core of common values.
The internationalization and the mobility of assets' flows, economy becoming financial, the spread of media and of western values on a global scale, the acceleration of products and fashion's changes, the gap between society and state and between delegation and decision-making power, society becoming individual and the fragmentation of territorial memberships are all characters which reshape today social relationships and the operative and effective forms of conflict in a new and different way compared with the past.
Through which means can one state citizenship if the steady presence on the territory alone does not ratify the status of citizen anymore? How to exact work rights with an unterritorial and headless counter-part? How to change the de jure rights into de facto rights weakening decision-making power? How to pass over the conflict between desire and reality principle? How can one define himself/herself 'integrated' if the process of highlightening differences is the first step of the process of individualization? How to establish meaningful connections among spheres which produce meaning and which are more and more specialized in their partial sub-systems?
In modern age the artistic practices' role has undergone two shifts from the fields of its traditional development. The first one concerns the loss of its technical and operative centrality in the representation of reality and in the production of formally relevant constructions by internal sub-systems which have become different and have grown step by step; the second concerns the partial loss of the legitimation role of the Úlites. These systemic changes have opened new spaces of performance but also holes of operative inconsistency. A system, the art's one which reproduced itself however thanks to the fact that it has kept the role left of legitimatior of the Úlites; it has been forced, though, to open to new fields of meaning which could make it different from the new sub-systems emerged and stated in its place. Its own legitimation detached from the traditional roles and opened to continuous redefinitions and openings to meaning and ways excluded before. At the same time, in the last few decades, social action departed from the traditional forms of collective delegation and action. The chances of criticism which emerged concern "faked" fields of social action. Instead of parties' delegation and mass mobilitation, activist critical groups were born, which, moving from empiric emergencies of medium range (environment, urban exclusion, social responsibility of factories, consume's form, and so on), developed critical and protestative ways which contain systemic critics, once privileged task of the political system. In other words, when in modern age different social spheres (economy, politics, art, science.) show the maximum development, differentiation and self-reference the effects which they produce following their own internal logics can become damaging and dangerous for the other social spheres which are part of the whole experience. There are plenty of examples in the effects of neoliberal economic politics, in merchandising public spaces, in biotechnologies, in science applied to war. The chance of criticism of such "collateral" effects turns away from the internal logics of the systems which created them and takes place in sectors of social action which are "faked" and trasversal. As if a highly differentiated system could not control the effects external to its own highly specialistic logic anymore and made it possibile the development of critical forms only beginning from an undifferentiated place, a place still to be defined but which introduces itself in a blowing way on the stage through its whole semantic strength and epistemic cogency. Such a place in Integration and Conflict is of course that of artistic practices, a strong place of loss and vanishing of a steady social role made by modern age but which, due to this same loss, keeps mobile structures of adaptation, intervention and action. It becomes a thermometer and a flexible instrument of social action thanks to the gained operative mobility linked to the concreteness of the operative spaces brought by tradition. Eterogeneous practices and knowledge can find new synthesis in a place where the fields of meanings are, and keep being, necessarily open by the need to legitimate themselves and legitimate within changed contexts of reference. Conflict, as place of change and of elaboration of emancipation views, becomes vital in the scanning of the meaningful passages.