Secondary Sector – Concept, examples and other sectors

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

secondary sector
The secondary sector deals with the transformation of the raw material.

What is the secondary sector?

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

The secondary sector is, today, one of the most important in the development of the economy of nations, since the procedures applied to the raw material to obtain an elaborated product (which goes to final consumers) or semi-elaborated (which in turn feeds other industries) adds added value to the product, generating a profit greater than the cost of the 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 belonging to the family, locally, and of slow production, which does not seek so much to satisfy the demands of the market 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 manipulate materials on a large scale and turn them into manufactured products, being able to satisfy a growing market with a fast and constant production rate. This sector is key to sustaining capitalism and is one of the great beneficiaries and drivers of scientific-technological development.
  • Construction. From the construction of houses and residential buildings, to the huge corporate skyscrapers or the public works of the State (squares, roads, schools, bridges, tunnels, etc.), construction is an industrial sector that advances at the rate 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 essential activity to sustain the production of a country, in all its possible sectors. Every type of industry requires energy to operate, which is why this subsector has become one of the most fundamental in the contemporary world.

Examples from the secondary sector

secondary sector
Textile industries, among others, produce their products en masse.

Some examples from the industrial sector can be:

  • Factories of personal articles. As industries of shoes, textiles and other elements of personal consumption, produced in mass thanks to large, highly mechanized facilities. For this they consume textile raw materials and leather or plastics.
  • Bottling and packaging machines. From various forms of edible raw material and other from the chemical (and glass) industry, food products are generated ready to be consumed by citizens, such as beverages, processed and packaged foods, etc.
  • Chemical and petrochemical industries. Taking various chemical materials such as oil, these industries obtain a wide range of scientific inputs that are used in numerous industries, such as preservatives, disinfectants, plastics, etc.
  • Energy 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 waterfalls, which is less polluting. The result, whatever the option chosen, will be to supply electricity to both direct consumers and other economic sectors.

Primary sector

primary sector
The primary sector is responsible for obtaining natural resources.

The primary sector or extractive sector It’s that one whose activities include obtaining natural resources necessary to start the production chain, that is, to produce the goods and inputs that humanity needs to sustain its model of life.

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, owner as it is of the natural resources of a territory.

Third sector

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

The tertiary sector or service sector is distinguished from the primary and secondary sectors in that it neither extracts nor transforms natural resources, but rather provides specific services to both the first two sectors and to the consumer, destined to satisfy 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.

Follow in: Tertiary sector