The notion of agency and the material engagement theory: An Agentive statement

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


Malafouris (2013) proposes that agency is an emergent product of the relational ontology of our material engagement. However, I suggest a distinction between meaning and agency for a better understanding of our relational ontology with things. Meaning is the payoff of the relational ontology, meaning emerges when an agent act within the world. Agency is the capability to act, signify, produce and obtain meaning, and this capability is exclusive of living organisms. The distinction does not imply to fall in Cartesianism. Agentive semiotics (Niño 2015; Mendoza-Collazos 2016), for instance, is far from an anthropocentric or Cartesian conception of the way the agency operates. The treatment that agentive semiotics proposes for the exclusiveness of agency in living organisms could enhance the force of Malafouris' relational approach, explaining the key role of material culture without methodological fetishism.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy


  • agency, cognitive semiotics, design semiotics, agentive semiotics, semiotics
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
12th Conference of the International Association for Visual Semiotics: Visual semiotics goes cognitive
- Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Duration: 2019 Aug 222019 Aug 24
Conference number: 12


12th Conference of the International Association for Visual Semiotics
Abbreviated titleIAVS-AISV
Internet address

Bibliographic note

This paper is one-author paper, it was presented in a round table for discussion on agency with other authors and plenary speakers.

Related research output

Juan Carlos Mendoza-Collazos, 2020, In: Cognitive Semiotics. 13, 2

Research output: Contribution to journalReview (Book/Film/Exhibition/etc.)

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Related activities

Mendoza, J. (Contributor)
2018 Aug 222019 Aug 24

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

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