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It's a politically incorrect term but are you sure it's unreasonable to call Iqaluit "Third World"? I live in Oakland, California and I definitely think of it as a Third World city -- the utter poverty, homelessness with no end in sight, squalid encampments in the dirt in derelict land, the lack of help for anyone falling through the bottom of society. I wasn't born in the US but I find it odd that one of the criteria for somewhere to be considered third world seems to be "far away, not in USA".



> I live in Oakland, California and I definitely think of it as a Third World city

Oakland is in the top 20 US cities by median household income. If it is "Third World", then essentially the whole world (including most of the United States) is "Third World".

> I wasn't born in the US but I find it odd that one of the criteria for somewhere to be considered third world seems to be "far away, not in USA".

The First/Second/Third World categorization originally referred to the US and its allies (First World), the USSR and its allies (Second World), and non-aligned (in the cold war) countries (Third World). The Third World were largely developing countries, the former included most economically advanced countries (though it also included developing countries), and eventually the terminology shifted and "First World" became synonymous in most uses with "Developed" and "Third World" with "developing" (and no one uses "Second World" at all...)

But, in any case, the labels apply to countries, and the US is pretty clearly not Third World country by either the original definition or the one that is more commonly used now.


> the labels apply to countries

That's an opinion I think? Take Brazil for example; the difference between middle class suburbs in Sao Paulo and a remote settlement in an Amazonian state straddle our concepts of First and Third World. In fact the middle classes in the southern cities pretty much don't ever go to the north precisely because they view it as the Third World.

For many people in American cities, their access to healthcare, education, sanitation is not different, or in fact worse, than it would be in cities more conventionally thought of as third world. America's lack of social safety net is causing it to be accurate to refer to parts of America as Third World.


> That's an opinion I think?

Well, the original form was strictly for countries; if you want to use it to describe something that is neither on the level of analysis nor on the axis of variation of the original form, its not worth even using the terminology (the common modern form still uses the country unit of analysis, but is an economic rather than geopolitical axis.)

> Take Brazil for example; the difference between middle class suburbs in Sao Paulo and a remote settlement in an Amazonian state straddle our concepts of First and Third World.

Not really. Actually, have sharp geographic and class divides is typical of the developing world; having elite areas is not at all out of line of the traditional understanding of a developing (or "Third World") country.

Though a binary developing/developed or First/Third divide is problematic for other reasons -- Brazil (like Argentina, Mexico, and lots of other places) really ought to be viewed in a middle tier; its nearly as far above, by most meaures, a lot of the places more typical of the "Third World" as it is behind the places more typical of the "First World". (Perhaps we ought to resurrect "Second World" for this.)

> For many people in American cities, their access to healthcare, education, sanitation is not different, or in fact worse, than it would be in cities more conventionally thought of as third world.

To the extent one wants to discuss claims that that is the case, it may make sense to describe the particular American cities being like developing (or "Third") world cities with regard to the particular concerns, but that's different than describing them as part of the "Third World" which involves more than just those issues.


Yes, on balance I think you win this debate. You are perhaps a little too strongly influenced by the Cold War origins of this term, when for a couple of decades now the term has been almost exclusively used to describe places with poorly developed infrastructure and institutions. Phrases like "third world conditions" are common and as we agree, a feature of modern developing nations is high spatial variance in such things. So, since the Cold War is history, and since semantics evolve, I think a reasonable case can be made for taking the modern definition of "the Third World" to be the union of spatial areas which the speaker deems to exhibit third world characteristics. In any case, I'm shortly going to go out in the northern section of West Oakland, and there I will encounter scenes that I literally will not be able to distinguish from bad areas in Addis Ababa.


> northern section of West Oakland, and there I will encounter scenes that I literally will not be able to distinguish from bad areas in Addis Ababa.

It took me a moment to realize that you're probably not referring to the Ethiopian food on Telegraph Ave.


No! I meant the people living in dirt near the train tracks and bridges.


Iqaluit is Canada. It isn't third world, by either the original definition or the new. There is certainly poverty and deprivation there as in much of the north, but it isn't the same as a true "third world" nation. Each and every person in Iqaluit is free to move within Canada however they wish, vote for who they wish and exercise all the rights and freedoms of any other Canadian, including education and health care.


> Each and every person in Iqaluit is free to move within Canada however they wish, vote for who they wish and exercise all the rights and freedoms of any other Canadian

The absence of those abilities is not a defining character of the Third World by any definition I'm familiar with.


Switzerland is a Third World country by definition and has all this too.




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