Intermediaries and inequalities: a literature review

This working paper addresses the question of to what extent intermediaries serve to construct socio-economic inequalities in global migration. Drawing on analysis of an extensive literature review, this work suggests that intermediaries operate within global structures of socio-economic and political inequalities, and play contradictory roles by both overcoming and reproducing socio-economic inequalities. Intermediaries are crucial actors in helping migrants overcome inequality in mobility - either through legal or irregular channels, which help migrants escape from socioeconomic precarity in origin countries and access new opportunities, creating income and benefits to their households and communities. However, intermediaries are also key players in reproducing and reconstructing gendered and racialized inequalities and major sources of debt, exploitation and abuse experienced by migrants both during the migration journey and in destination countries.