One of the traditions that allows us to escape structure-agency dualism is that of material semiotics. This disentangles agency from intentionality. Within material semiotics, an entity counts as an actor if it makes a perceptible difference. Active entities are relationally linked with one another in webs. They make a difference to each other: they make each other be. Linguistic semiotics teaches that words give each other meaning. Material semiotics extends this insight beyond the linguistic and claims that entities give each other being: that they enact each other. In this way of thinking agency becomes ubiquitous, endlessly extended through webs of materialised relations. But where to localise agency in such a web? Where to pin it down? This becomes a matter of attribution, post hoc and after the action. In telling stories about events, some entities are detached from their background and called ‘actors’. They are made to conceal and stand for the web of relations that they cover. They become the place where explanation, moral, causal, practical, stops.

Law, J., & Mol, A., 2008. The actor-enacted: Cumbrian sheep in 2001. In Material Agency (pp. 57-77). Springer US.