animist wrote:phrases go in an out of fashion and political acceptability, and I did not even realise that "Third World" was now unacceptable. It is certainly technically obsolete, since "First World" meant the fairly rich countries of the capitalist West, "Second World" meant the former Communist bloc, and "Third World" meant the politically "uncommitted" and predominantly poor remainder.
Yes, definitely obsolete. Trouble is, the alternative "developing countries" is not without its problems, either. It does rather imply the inferiority of "developing countries" compared to "developed countries", and there's an assumption that development has to be according to a traditional "Western" capitalist model. Also, the term implies that the countries actually are
developing, rather than standing still or even deteriorating. "Less developed countries" gets round the second problem but not the first. "Less economically developed countries" may be more precise, but it's a bit of a mouthful. The term "majority world" was proposed a while ago, intended as a reminded that we were talking about the greater part of the world, but it doesn't seem to have caught on yet, and I'm not sure it achieves its aim. The term I prefer is "the Global South". It's not perfect, because of the geographical positions of places like Australia, New Zealand and Mongolia (see map). But then "the West" doesn't make an awful lot of sense geographically, and that's still used all the time (albeit ambiguously). Of course, the Global South includes not only the poorer countries but also newly industrialised countries like India, China, Brazil and South Africa. If I'm talking about poorer countries, then I say "poorer countries". That seems to be the standard term used these days by the UN and NGOs, and I think the "broadsheets" as well.