The Fourth World is an extension of the three-world model, used variably to refer to

  1. Sub-populations socially excluded from global society, such as uncontacted peoples;
  2. Hunter-gatherer, nomadic, pastoral, and some subsistence farming peoples living beyond the modern industrial norm.[1]
  3. Sub-populations existing in a First World country, but with the living standards of those of a Third World.

The term is not commonly used. "Fourth World" has also been used to refer to other parts of the world in relation to the three-world model.


Fourth World follows the First World, Second World, and Third World classification of nation-state status; however, unlike the former categories, Fourth World is not spatially bounded, and is usually used to refer to size and shape which does not map onto citizenship in a specific nation-state. It can denote nations without a sovereign state, emphasizing the perceived non-recognition and exclusion of ethnically- and religiously-defined peoples from the politico-economic world system, such as the First Nations groups throughout North, Central and South America. Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells of the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication has made extensive use of the term fourth world.[2][3]


The term was coined in 1969 by Father Joseph Wresinski when he renamed the charity he had founded in 1957 with families from the Noisy-le-Grand (France) shanty town to ATD Quart Monde.

The term was recycled in the 1970s by Mbuto Milando, first secretary of the Tanzanian High Commission, in conversation with George Manuel, Chief of the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations). Milando stated that "When Native peoples come into their own, on the basis of their own cultures and traditions, that will be the Fourth World."[4][5]

Since publication of Manuel's The Fourth World: An Indian Reality (1974), the term Fourth World became synonymous with stateless, poor, and marginal nations.[6] Since 1979, think tanks such as the Center for World Indigenous Studies have used the term in defining the relationships between ancient, tribal, and non-industrial nations and modern industrialised nation-states.[7] With the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, communications and organizing amongst Fourth World peoples have accelerated in the form of international treaties between aboriginal nations for the purposes of trade, travel, and security.[8] In the Indian left movement, M. P. Parameswaran's ideas on the fourth world caused widespread debates, which eventually led to his expulsion from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 2004.[9][10]

See also


  1. ^ "International day of the world's indigenous people". Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008.
  2. ^ Castells, Manuel (2000). "32: The Rise of the Fourth World" (PDF). In Held, David; McGrew, Andy (eds.). The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate. Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. 348–354. ISBN 978-0745631356. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 October 2022.
  3. ^ Castells, Manuel (29 January 2010). "2: The Rise of the Fourth World: Informational Capitalism, Poverty, and Social Exclusion". In Castells, Manuel (ed.). End of Millennium. Vol. 3 (Second ed.). doi:10.1002/9781444323436.ch2. ISBN 9781405196888.
  4. ^ Hall, Tony (2003). The American Empire and the Fourth World: The bowl with one spoon. McGill-Queen's native and northern series, 34. Montreal; Ithaca: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 238. ISBN 0-7735-3006-1. ISBN 9780773530065, ISBN 0773523324, ISBN 9780773523326.
  5. ^ McFarlane, Peter (1993). Brotherhood to nationhood: George Manuel and the making of the modern Indian movement. Toronto: Between the Lines. p. 160. ISBN 0-921284-67-5. ISBN 9780921284673, ISBN 0921284667, ISBN 9780921284666.
  6. ^ Griggs, Richard. "The breakdown of states". Center for World Indigenous Studies.
  7. ^ Ryser, Rudolph C. (September 1993). "Toward the coexistence of nations and states". Center for World Indigenous Studies. Archived from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  8. ^ Cloud, Redwing (10 August 2007). "United League of Indigenous Nations formed". Indian Country Today.
  9. ^ "CPI(M) expels M.P. Parameswaran". The Hindu. 16 February 2004.[dead link]
  10. ^ "KSSP to continue with existing policies". The Hindu. 1 March 2004.[dead link]

Further reading