Actors are to be distinguished from actants.
Actors are the concrete characters of a story or the dramatis personae of a play. The notion of actant, on the other hand, offers an inventory of classes of entities in a narrative, which are defined by their relations to one another.
Thus, A. J. Greimas distinguishes between actants, which belong to narrative syntax, and actors, which are recognisable in the particular discourse in which they are manifested (Greimas 1987: 106). In simple terms, actors are the things in a narrative that have names, such as the King, Tom, Excalibur, while actants are the narrative units they manifest and which have a functional role in the narrative, such as helper, opponent, sender and receiver.
Actors always have agency (the ability or the competency to act/act upon), although not necessarily intentionality (conscious intention to act), the ability to reflect upon their action or to act reflexively in the course of inter-action (the ability to alter one’s position on the basis of conscious intentionality and reflective awareness during an inter-action).
See also Actor Network Theory; Actant;
Greimas, A. J. (1987). On Meaning. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Porter Abbott, H. (2002) The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.edited 9 October, 2017 by Mr. Administrator