Immigration practitioners, brokers, agents: investigating the immigration industry in South Africa

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master of Arts in Migration and Displacement
Title Immigration practitioners, brokers, agents: investigating the immigration industry in South Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Most research in the field of migration studies focuses on providing either a sociology of
migrants or a political analysis of the regulations which govern immigration. In this research
project I have taken a different, structural approach to the field by studying the immigration
industry in South Africa through the lens provided by immigration intermediaries.
This research examines who immigration intermediaries are; the role they play in and around
immigration structures; and the relationship between the Department of Home Affairs (DHA),
immigration intermediaries, and immigrants. By using data collected in 16 qualitative, in-depth
interviews with actors in the industry, primarily immigration practitioners, the primary aim of
this research is to document and analyse the role of immigration intermediaries within the
South African immigration industry and the role they have in shaping emerging structures
around immigration.
With intermediaries as the focus of enquiry, this research has three primary results: the first is a
typology of immigration intermediaries; the second is an analysis of the relationship between
the DHA and intermediaries which understands the role played by intermediaries as essentially
a function that the DHA has outsourced as a result of their inability to effectively manage
migration; and the third is an argument that South Africa’s immigration regulations have
always, and continue to, ensure the reproduction of a precarious migrant class to the benefit of
the South African economy.
Research in migration studies tends to focus on either migrants or immigration policy. This
research focuses instead on neglected actors and structures, the intermediaries and the
institutions they operate within, and brings to the attention of the field the importance of the
actors and structures that facilitate immigration in South Africa.

Related studies