Modern democracy is based on pluralism (of ideas, values, interests) and therefore on a certain measure of conflict. However, conflict in a democracy - when the model works - is deradicalized: it is competition without violence where pacific means (primarily elections) are used to resolve divergences. The question which the article seeks to answer is how this accomplishment is pos- sible. In particular, in what ways is democracy able to tame political conflict? The article starts with analysis (conducted with reference to the current of thought that developed from J. Locke and A. Smith) of diverse instruments of social regulation: not only political power but also social persuasion. These various instruments of regulation are what in the modern age determine the specificities of social spheres claiming autonomy from the state. It is precisely the development of social spheres distinct from the state that favours the deradicalization of political conflict. It does so by reducing the stakes in this arena; it reduces in particular the identitarian value of the stakes in the competition for political power. The final part of the article considers some limitations of the theoretical model proposed.