The majority world (sometimes capitalized as Majority World) is a term used in preference to the largely inaccurate, out-of-date and/or non-descriptive terms developing countries, third world and the "South". In the early nineties, Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam began advocating for a new expression “majority world” to represent what has formerly been known as the “Third World.” The term highlights the fact that these countries are indeed the majority of humankind. It also brings to sharp attention the anomaly that the Group of 8 countries—whose decisions affect majority of the world's peoples—represent a tiny fraction of humankind.
Majority world defines the community in terms of what it is, rather than what it lacks.
The term LDCs (Least Developed Countries) is more accurate than most of the alternatives, but may be seen as having strong negative connotations that reinforce the stereotypes about poor communities and represent them as icons of poverty. There is also the question of summing up a nation which may have great cultural heritage as less developed, by considering only the economics development.
More strident critics of the Western role in these nations make more damning criticisms of the terms third world, developing country and LDCs: that they hide histories of oppression and continued exploitation. It is sometimes argued that economically poor countries of the world are invariably countries that have been colonized, and continue to be colonized through globalized forms of control.
The labels also hinder the appreciation of the cultural and social wealth of these communities. Though these terms are still used, there is an increasing feeling within the communities themselves that these terms are inappropriate. The term majority world may be seen as challenging the West’s rhetoric of democracy.
- To moderate the euphemistic aspect of the word developing, international organizations have started to use the term Less economically developed countryW (LEDCs) for the poorest nations which can in no sense be regarded as developing. That is, LEDCs are the poorest subset of LDCs. This also moderates the wrong tendency to believe that the standard of living in the entire developing world is the same.
Note this does not deal with all of the criticisms above. Developing may be somewhat more accurate once the most desperate, stagnant economies are removed, but it is not a feature that distinguishes them from the wealthy nations which are also growing. There is not even a certainty that the poorer countries are catching up to the richer ones. It would be more accurate if the term less economically developed country were used for all countries other than the wealthy, developed nations - however as it is already used with a narrower meaning, it is perhaps too late for such a usage to catch on.
The "South" or "Global South"
The Global South carries strong connotations of division, emphasizing the geographic division that correlates to some extent with the distribution of poverty. It has the advantage of offering a convenient shorthand (such as South-South or South to North knowledge transfer).
However it is inaccurate and perhaps unhelpful in suggesting a simple division into two regions, and in suggesting that the nations in question are further South than the most developed nations. Consider Australia and Mongolia as two obvious counter-examples. Further, consider Albania, Japan and Malaysia as counter-examples to the idea of countries in the same region belonging to the same economic class.
The concept of Fair Trade Photography evolved from the idea that photographers of the majority world were excluded from their self representation. An Internet portal www.majorityworld.comlink title has been set up to promote the work of majority world photographers.