Abstract: Brokerage is an essential yet understudied function in social life. In one of the classics in the field of sociology, Georg Simmel differentiated three types of the “third” which help to analyse brokerage: the disinterested mediator or arbitrator, tertius gaudens and divide et impera. Studies that conceptualise traffickers and smugglers as brokers are extremely rare. Scholars lack a typology which can serve as a basis for comparative research. To advance scholarship on brokerage this article seeks to develop a conceptual-typological matrix by setting out to explore three questions: Why does brokerage exist? What kind of social mechanism is brokerage? What are the implications of brokerage for social inequalities and equalities? The analysis concludes with the consequences of different types of brokerage for the (re)production of social inequalities.
Keywords: brokerage; inequality; migration; social mechanism