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What is the secondary sector?

We explain what the secondary sector is and what its subsectors are, with examples. In addition, summary of the primary and tertiary sector.

  1. What is the secondary sector?

A secondary sector or industrial sector is known as a segment of the economy that deals with the transformation of raw material into consumer products or capital goods, constituting the second step in the production chain after the extraction of raw material .

The secondary sector is, today, one of the most important in the development of the economy of the nations , as the procedures applied to the raw material to obtain an elaborated product (which goes to the final consumers) or semi-elaborated ( which in turn feeds other industries) adds value to the product, generating a greater profit at the cost of raw materials.

The industrial sector generally comprises four subsectors:

  • Crafts . This was the basic industrial sector in Europe until the Industrial Revolution and mass production. It includes the making of consumer objects in workshops or domestic spaces, usually of family, local, and slow-production property, which does not seek to satisfy the demands of the market as much as to provide subsistence to the artisan.
  • Industry . The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century brought with it a series of changes in the ability to handle large-scale materials and turn them into processed products, being able to satisfy a growing market with a fast and steady production rate. This sector is key to the support of capitalism and is one of the great beneficiaries and drivers of scientific and technological development.
  • Construction . From the construction of houses and residential buildings, to the huge corporate skyscrapers or public works of the State (squares, roads, schools, bridges, tunnels, etc.), construction is an industrial sector that advances at the pace of urban expansion and of population growth.
  • Obtaining energy . The generation of electricity through different means and mechanisms, some safer, cleaner and more reliable than others, is an indispensable activity to sustain the production of a country, in all its possible sectors. All types of industry require energy to operate, so this subsector has become one of the fundamentals of the contemporary world.
  1. Examples of the secondary sector

secondary sector
The textile industries, among others, produce their products in mass.

Some examples of the industrial sector can be:

  • Factories of personal items . As industries of shoes, textiles and other elements of personal consumption, mass produced thanks to large highly mechanized facilities. For this they consume textile and leather or plastic raw material .
  • Bottling and packing machines . From various forms of edible raw material and other from the chemical industry (and the glass industry), food products are ready to be consumed by citizens, such as beverages, processed and packaged foods, etc.
  • Chemical and petrochemical industries . Taking various chemical materials such as petroleum , these industries obtain a wide range of scientific inputs that are used in numerous industries, such as preservatives, disinfectants, plastics, etc.
  • Power plants . Electricity generating plants generally consume fossil hydrocarbons to mobilize generating turbines, or more complex inputs such as uranium to subject it to controlled atomic processes. Other options are to strategically use natural resources such as wind, sun or water falls, which is less polluting. The result, whatever the option chosen, will be to supply both direct consumers and other economic sectors with electricity.
  1. Primary sector

primary sectorThe primary sector is responsible for obtaining natural resources.

The primary sector or extractive sector is one whose activities include obtaining the necessary natural resources to start the productive chain, that is, to elaborate the goods and supplies that humanity needs to sustain its life model.

This first stage deals directly with the natural deposits or with the source of the input taken from the environment , often under the permission and supervision of the State, which is the owner of the natural resources of a territory.

  1. Third sector

third sector
The tertiary sector provides services to the first two sectors and the consumer.

The tertiary sector or service sector is distinguished from the primary and secondary sector in that it neither extracts nor transforms natural resources, but provides specific services to both the first two sectors and the consumer , aimed at satisfying specific needs of: transport, logistics, marketing, tourism , finance, entertainment, culture, and a long etcetera. Although they do not produce goods, they are one of the fastest growing sectors in the contemporary world , partly thanks to the advantages of globalization and e-commerce.

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