This article deals with the figure of the informal labour contractor in the Italian agricultural labour market. By comparing two cases - the Burkinabe caporali in the production of processing tomatoes in Puglia and Basilicata and the Indian Panjabi brokers in the dairy sector in the Po valley - we analyse the relationships among migrants’ social networks, intermediaries and local productive sectors. On the one hand, we describe how these brokers manipulate their social networks in order to gain economic and social capital. On the other hand, we show how Italian migration policies cause a hierarchization of the migrant networks: more than other migrants, the intermediaries are able to accumulate economic and social capital and to achieve a social and geographical mobility. The article is based upon two studies conducted with ethnographic methodologies.
Keywords: Farm labour contracting, migrant network, dairy sector, processing tomato, recruitment