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For other uses of this term, see Industry (disambiguation)

An industry is an area of economic production which involves large amounts of upfront capital investment before any profit can be realized.

The most successful industries in a given sector tend, to be either companies started with a great deal of seed money, or early innovators of some new technology brought first to market, so that a great deal of capital can be quickly raised from sales for further research into technological improvements.

Industry became a key sector of production in European and North American countries during the Industrial Revolution, which upset previous mercantile and feudal economies through many successive rapid advances in technology, such as the development of steam engines, power looms, and advances in large scale steel and coal production. Industrial countries then assumed a capitalist economic policy. Railroads and steam-powered shipss began speedily integrating previously impossibly-distant world markets, enabling private companies to develop to then-unheard of size and wealth. Following the Industrial Revolution, perhaps a third of world's economic output is derived from industry - more than agriculture's share, but now less than that of the service sector.

In economics and urban planning, industrial is an intensive type of land use and economic activity involved with manufacturing and production.

Table of contents
1 Marxism and Industry
2 Worldwide Industrial Distribution
3 List of Industries and Prominent Companies

Marxism and Industry

Control of industry became a key point of Marxist theory. The labor theory of value holds that the worth of a given object exists only because of the work that somebody has exerted to set it into its current state or form. Unimproved, natural objects such as trees and rocks generally have little value; but if wood is carved into a piano, or rocks are built into a house, then the resulting object suddenly has value because of this labor.

Marxists hold that the relationship between the bourgeois capitalist class - those wealthy enough to invest significant capital in industry - and the proletarian laborers who work for them is fundamentally parasitic; that the capitalists, in essence, receive free money far beyond their original investment by paying workers far less than the full value of the objects that their labor produces. Marxists therefore advocate that the workers themselves should own the means of production - capital assets such as factories and equipment used for production. In Leninist countries such as the Soviet Union, this plan was implemented by making all capital assets owned by the state collective - theoretically, by the workers themselves.

Maoism, the economic philosophies of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, agrees with previous Marxist thought on industry, but prescribes a different solution. Instead of workers or the collective owning the factories, Maoism advocates a resettlement of the populace into rural areas and a return to a decentralized agrarian way of life.

Stalin forced a rapid industrialization of the (then mostly agrarian) Soviet Union in the years before World War II with his Five Year Plans.

Worldwide Industrial Distribution

Most industrial output remains in the manufacturing sector, especially in the First World, though construction and mining remain substantial components overall.

List of Industries and Prominent Companies

The International Standard Industrial Classification and national variants identify sectors of economic activity for statistical and national accounting purposes.



Chemical production

Computer hardware and software production


Entertainment industry

Information technology


Manufacturing, generally

Public utility provision



Steel production


Textile production

See also: Industrial archaeology, capitalism, communism, Adam Smith, Marxism, economics, political economy