Industry, the long-term changes in types and distribution of global economic activity. In everyday usage, the term “industry” refers to large manufacturing companies, such as the big multinational car companies. In this article a broader definition of industry will be used, which includes all economic activities, in all sectors, and groups them into three broad categories; primary, secondary, and tertiary.
II TYPES OF INDUSTRY
A Primary Industries
These are the industries responsible for the extraction of natural resources. They comprise agriculture, hunting, fisheries, forestry, mining, and quarrying. A distinction is often drawn between those primary industries concerned with renewable resources such as forests and those concerned with non-renewable ones, such as minerals.
B Secondary Industries
Secondary industries engage in the manufacturing and production of goods. The word “secondary” implies that such companies are engaged in the second stage of economic activity. They use the natural resources of the primary industries (and possibly the goods of other secondary industries) to make products. Secondary industries include house-building and the manufacture of clothes, food processing, shoes, luggage, furniture, packaging, chemicals, metal products, machinery, electrical products, electronic products, computers, cars, trains, and aeroplanes. They also include utilities, which provide services such as gas, water, and electricity.
C Tertiary Industries
Tertiary industries comprise those companies involved in services, as opposed to those providing an extractive or manufacturing function. The tertiary category includes retailers (of clothes, food, and so on), banks, insurance companies, hotels, restaurants, estate agents, lawyers, doctors, accountants, teachers, golf professionals, and television presenters.
Although the word “tertiary” might be thought to imply that these industries have developed recently (for example, computer programming), this is not necessarily the case. Food-sellers fall into the tertiary category, but people have sold food in markets for thousands of years. This example highlights another point. There are many industries for which the distinction between primary and secondary, or between secondary and tertiary, is difficult to make. A food-seller may be a market trader who purchases fish from a fisherman. In this case he or she would be classed as tertiary. Alternatively, the fisherman may have walked from the beach into the market and sold the fish directly to a customer. This second example shows how different stages of the production process may be performed by the same people. To take another example, many oil companies own oil rigs, petrochemical plants, and garage retail outlets. In such cases it is difficult to say whether this industrial activity is primary, secondary, or tertiary.
The contrast between primary, secondary, and tertiary industries can also be seen at the country level. Advanced economies such as the United Kingdom have a mix of industries, primary, secondary, and tertiary, but with an overwhelming emphasis on the tertiary sector. In contrast, many poorer nations still depend for their livelihoods on primary industries such as minerals or agriculture.