‘Fourth World’ Cities in the Global Economy: The Case of Phnom Penh, Cambodia


While globalization is often perceived to present opportunities for developing countries as a result of the relocation of industry and the development of a new international division of labor, the least developed countries (LDCs) have for the most part experienced declining shares of global trade and investment. This has led some to characterize such ‘fourth world’ countries as ‘structurally irrelevant’ to global capital accumulation, and to infer that patterns of urbanization in LDCs are largely unaffected by globalization. Yet a number of aspects of the global economy have important implications for cities in LDCs, including increased international economic interaction, rapid technological change, changes in regional economies, and the increased influence of transnational organizations. This paper explores the impact of these phenomena in the context of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a city in an LDC that has experienced major socio‐economic and spatial change as a result of increased interaction with the global economy.