Economic Geography: Classification
Man is active to satisfy his basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. When these needs are fulfilled, he aspires for higher needs, which makes him work ceaselessly. All types of human activities may be classified into various types from the simple act of gathering fruits and nuts to advanced research in universities and national laboratories. The range is from manual labour with less brain work to the most sophisticated brain work.
The earliest type of activity was food gathering, hunting and fishing with simple tools. Subsistence agriculture originated in river valleys and deltas. Animal husbandry forestry and fishing in inland waters and oceans supplemented agriculture. These are the primary activities (primary sector). People have to work in the fields, and the workers are called red-collar Workers. In developing countries more than 50% of the working population are engaged in primary activities.
Secondary activities (secondary sector) are those, which increase the value of product by processing it and changing its form. Producing sugarcane by cultivation is a primary activity. Manufacturing sugar from sugarcane is a secondary activity. Similarly mining bauxite is a primary activity but refining aluminium from bauxite is a secondary activity. Secondary activities are the various industries which process agricultural, pastoral, forest, mineral and other raw materials and produced finished products of great value. Workers engaged in secondary activities are called blue colour workers. While primary activities do not require much infrastructure, secondary activities need facilities like energy, capital market, labour, transport etc. Hence the secondary activities are highly localized and their distribution is of great interest to geographers.
Tertiary activities (tertiary sector) are those relating to provision of services rather than producing goods. Activities are personal services such as tailor business, services such as retail trade, clerks etc. Their number is large in large urban centres. These workers are pink-collar workers. Quaternary services include professional services like teaching, health and medicine accounts etc., similarly administrative services belong to this group. These services are concentrated in urban centres and there is a hierarchy of such services. For example in the field of medical services the range is from a Primary Health Centre, Hospital, district hospital, general hospital and advanced Institutes of medical sciences. People engaged in these services are white-collar workers.
The last category of services is called quinary activities dealing with higher levels of professional and administrative services. For example chief executive of large 'undertaking, legal consultants, financial executives in bank and insurance. Top-level administrators in government are also in this group. These services are found only in large metropolitan centres. These persons may be called gold- collar personals.
Tertiary, quaternary and quinary activities form together the tertiary sector.
The relative composition of the work force in these five categories in any country will give an index of its economic development. In developed nations, the number of persons engaged in primary and secondary activities is low while the number engaged in tertiary and higher activities is more. In the developing nations the number of persons engaged in primary and secondary activities is much more than those in other activities.
Apart from production of goods and provision of services to the people engaged in such production, another important activity is "exchange" of goods. This includes services like wholesale trade, retail trade, handling storage and transport of goods, communications and exchange of money. At each level of such exchange, the value of the product gets enhanced until it reaches the retail outlet. These services play an important role in taking the goods to the consumer.
Economic geography also studies the patterns of consumption of goods and services. The pattern of consumption of a basic necessity like food varies not only from one country to another but also within each country. What factors, are responsible for such spatial contrasts in consumption patterns? Is it due to differences in availability of goods or services or is it due to inability to pay for goods or services? The geography of poverty or affluence is of great significance in the world in view of social and political problems, which arise.
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