To talk about the four types of economic activity, it is necessary to define what economic activity is first. Economic activity is most easily defined as the activity of producing, providing, purchasing, or selling various goods or services. It is often mentioned in the context of economic geography, and it deals with the production, consumption, and exchange of goods and services based on different spatial variations of the surface of our planet.
Economic activities are present in almost every aspect of our society. The easiest way to explain this is that all activities that involve money or the exchange of products are considered economic activities. Of course, this means that there are also non-economic activities. These activities do not include any exchange and can be anything, from helping a friend to study to going to a church to pray. Economic activities are mostly divided into four large types. These types are the primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary activities.
When talking about primary activities, we are referring to the activities that deal with the acquiring of natural resources directly from nature. Things like gathering, farming, hunting, fishing, forestry, and many other similar activities are considered primary economic activities. They involve trading of goods in various ways, so it makes them a vital part of the economy. They are activities that are mostly outdoor in nature. This is why the people that are engaged in these activities are often called red-collar workers.
Secondary activities are a little more complex. When we classify an economic activity as a secondary activity, it means that it includes the process of adding value to products by modifying them. These activities take existing products and change them in multiple ways, which adds extra value to them. The simplest way to explain these activities is to say that they include mostly manufacturing industries. So anything that gets created in factories, from processed foods to clothes, belongs to the secondary economic activities.
One thing that also gets included in these activities often is commercial farming. This activity uses hybrid seeds and modern technology, which would place it in this category, rather than the previous one. The name we use to describe the workers in the fields of secondary economic activities is blue-collar workers.
The activities in this group deal with providing various kinds of service. Anything ranging from clerks and barbers to auto mechanics falls into this group. They can be most easily defined as personal and business services. A lot of these services do not offer a product that is physical in nature, but a service which we could not accomplish by ourselves. People working in tertiary activities are usually experts in specific fields that fall outside what is considered common knowledge. We call the workers in these activities pink-collar workers.
This group of activities includes all of those that are provided in special environments. A good example would be health services, which we can only get in hospitals. Some other examples include hotels which provide us with hospitality services or schools which provide us with teaching services. These activities are the hardest to describe because they cover such a wide variety of things.
For example, theaters fall under quaternary activities because they provide entertainment services. We call the workers that are engaged in quaternary activities white-collar workers. Many professions today fall under this category, like software personnel, legal consultants, financial advisors, and many more. These activities can be considered a developed form of services that requires highly specific knowledge and skills, with a high level of competence in communication.
About the Author
Antonia is a sociologist and an anglicist by education, but a writer and a behavior enthusiast by inclination. If she's not writing, editing or reading, you can usually find her snuggling with her huge dog or being obsessed with a new true-crime podcast. She also has a (questionably) healthy appreciation for avocados and Seinfeld.
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