Agents of order? Brokerage and empowerment in development and conflict

Sara De Jong, Ward Berenschot, David Ehrhardt, Oliver Walton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To what extent do brokers empower marginalised communities? This pertinent question connects the articles collected in this special issue and is the focus of this introduction. We propose that a comparative analysis of the empowering capacity of brokers involves paying attention to three key dimensions of brokerage, as well as their interaction effects: the characteristics of the broker, the nature of the brokerage network in which the broker operates, and the structural conditions that give rise to a (fluctuating) demand for brokers. We highlight and analyse variation in the degree to which brokers succeed in empowering marginalised communities, while noting that brokerage often functions as a force for order rather than transformation. We conclude that under certain circumstances, brokers can significantly empower communities, but that this impact is curtailed by the systemic constraints inherent in their social context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-400
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of International Development
Issue number3
Early online date27 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2023

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