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Third World or Developing Countries


Terms such as “Third World” or “Developing Countries” are terms used to classify a country’s economic might or level of development. The term Third World has been used for generations and up to date it retains some usefulness and relevance in a geopolitical world although sweeping statements like a Third World country is no longer justifiable. The paper argues against the use of “Third World” or “Developing Countries” as such generalization is archaic and does not reflect the current economic situation of these countries. The term is not fashionable anymore as it reflects an inaccurate assess of what these countries have gone since the Cold War.

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Escobar presents a concise point on using a term like “underdeveloped” or “Third World” to call much of the nations in Africa, Asia or in Latin America and the resulting treatment subsequently. Using Colombia as an example, the West through the World Bank took to ‘teach’ the underdeveloped countries how to be westernized. However, what constitutes developments between western and Third World countries may be different. Using the term Third World means bluntly grades these countries’ development in one common basket which is not a true reflection of what is happening in their backyards.  Western countries trying to impose capitalism have been an important anthropological concern. Whatever connotes economic progress in the west may not correlate to what development means in Third World Countries.

The concept that a country is a “Third World” or “Developing Countries” has been useful to the Western countries and proved to be successful in a political context over the last many years since the Cold War. However, these terms are not only diminishing but an inaccurate assess of these countries in a 21st century. This is because in the West, a term like “Third World” may have denoted suggested backwardness or some otherness. According to Randall, due to comparative terms, it is however important that the world moves past these terms that are blunt generalizations to rather consider individual countries in their own right. This is not only wrong but also outdated way of labeling countries since the Cold War.

The term “Third World” was actually used during the Cold War to refer to those countries that were non-aligned neither to the West nor to the Soviet simply because they were poor. However, past the war, the terms “Third World” or “Developing Countries” have been used to imply many things like economic backwardness and poverty and sometimes colonization. The biggest question now is whether it is time to abandon such terms as “Third World” or “Developing Countries.” Many experts feel that there is no need for a continued use of the terms as these countries have seen economic progress and have advanced in many more ways and are not the backward nations they were during the Cold War.

For some people, a “Third World” or “Developing Countries” concept draws attention to a political or economic inequality. The terms further provides a discourse of a political construct that obscures the real complexities the real indent formation, nonetheless with a strategic political context. This means that the terms can be used in creating political solidarities and alignments. Another argument is that is that the generalization is important for comparative politics. This means that the terms “Third World” or “Developing Countries” can be used to bring into perspective the context of global and local economic relations. That is why such authors like Randall assert that in spite of all the its difficulties, the terms such as “Third World” or “Developing Countries” should be used in establishing a kind of division of the world in a global political context.

Although Randall justifies the use these terms for their value in comparative politics. It is important to be aware of a too rigid separation between political study and internal relations between countries. This is because the two relations are more and more interdependent which on the other hand calls for traditional focus. The justification is that most of these terms “Third World” implies that the countries have much more in common, apart from a few countries. The term “Third World” according to Randall includes countries that have been plagued by conflict, authoritarianism, military regimes and instability in Africa, Asia, Middle East or Latin America. Most of the above features are not known in the “First World” but their coverage helped justify their study. This however can be contrasted to development in the last two decades or so as seeking to generalize these countries under auspicious terms may not only appear to be arrogant but also crude.

There is also some unsettling regarding the lumping of countries as “Third World” which covers about 80 percent of the world’s population or 70 percent of land mass. Politically, several countries have gone through many changes since the term was used. Many countries have seen their economy out of the woods and may no longer be associated with the terms “Third World” or “Developing Countries.” Actually, all along there have been major differences within the countries under these terms and thus limits a meaningful scope of political generalization. This is because according to scholars like Huntington, civilizations continue to evolve over time and thus some think we should have some definite terms like Western, Islamic, Japanese, Sinic, etc instead of a blunt generalization. This is because these countries have acquired a new resonance since Cold War in a global context.

Further, there has been more diversity politically and economically in these countries that it may not be tenable to just call them “Third World” or “Developing Countries.” There is increasing diversity in the way “Third World” or “Developing Countries” are going about their paths to prosperity rather than using the conventional West way. Randal for example concludes that using the terms “Third World” or “Developing Countries” can be used in an abusive way despite the fact that there are some convincing reasons to retain them.  However, there ought to be some other terms that would better represent these countries and regions rather than branding all of them as “Third World” or “Developing Countries.” In helpful comparative politics, these terms are no longer tenable considering too that they may raise basic tension in their use. Nevertheless, they are important terms used to denote the economic continued economic and power imbalance. However, there ought not be a reason why these countries should not be served justice in the political sphere by having better attributable terms rather than bluntly calling them “Third World” or “Developing Countries”.


The terms “Third World” or “Developing Countries” have been used by the West to label some countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Middle East that have been seen not to be developed or are economically disadvantaged. It is only important that these names are not used to label a whole 70 percent of the population as it is not only archaic but an incorrect assessment. Since the Cold War when the term Third World was used, many countries have undergone economic changes that it will not only be blunt to call them Third World but also degrading to them.

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