Migration, brokerage, precarity and agency

Migration, brokerage, precarity and agency

Globally, brokerage is widespread in migrant labour markets. Brokers fill the gap between migrants and the countries or places they are travelling to, and help migrants traverse complex immigration systems, border controls and labour markets. They are involved in the placement of migrants into precarious jobs but also mitigate the precarity of migrants from marginalised classes and ethnicities. The prominent debates around people trafficking and smuggling, and subsequent changes in law and policy, highlight how brokers have become of concern to policymakers in both migrant sending and receiving countries.

This brief summarises Migrating out of Poverty research from Ghana, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Qatar, and South Africa. It is hoped that the findings in this brief will help policymakers better understand why migrants might use brokers to make potentially dangerous journeys to work in sectors that are poorly regulated. It places the migrant–broker relationship within wider systems of labour circulation in globalised and neoliberalised systems of services and manufacturing as well as geopolitical tensions. Finally, it suggests some adjustments that may improve policy in this area.