Industrial complex

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The industrial complex is a socioeconomic concept wherein businesses become entwined in social or political systems or institutions, creating or bolstering a profit economy from these systems. Such a complex is said to pursue its own financial interests regardless of, and often at the expense of, the best interests of society and individuals. Businesses within an industrial complex may have been created to advance a social or political goal, but mostly profit when the goal is not reached. The industrial complex may profit financially from maintaining socially detrimental or inefficient systems.


The concept was popularized by President Dwight Eisenhower[1] in his Jan. 17, 1961 farewell speech. Eisenhower described a "threat to democratic government"[2] called the military industrial complex. This complex involved the military establishment gaining "unwarranted influence" over the economic, political, and spiritual realms of American society due to the profitability of the US arms industry and the number of citizens employed in various branches of military service, the armaments industry, and other businesses providing goods to the US army. The "complex" arises from the creation of a multilateral economy serving military goals, as well as the paradox that arises from the goal of the multilateralism (sustained profit) as antithetical to the military's theoretical goal (peace).


In many cases, the industrial complex refers to a conflict of interest between an institution's purported socio-political purpose and the financial interests of the businesses and government agencies that profit from the pursuit of such purpose, when achieving the stated purpose would result in a financial loss for those businesses. For example, the purported purpose of the US penal system is to assist offenders in becoming law abiding citizens[3] yet the prison industrial complex subsists upon high inmate populations, thus relying on the penal system's failure to meet its goal of criminal reform and re-entry. In these types of cases, government agencies are often thought to profit financially from institutional industrialization, perhaps eroding their motivation to legislate such institutions in ways that may be socially beneficial.

The industrial complex concept has also been used informally to denote the artificial creation, inflation, or manipulation of an institution's societal value in order to increase profit opportunities, especially through specialty businesses and niche products. An example of this is the marriage industrial complex,[4][5][6][7] where demand for wedding dress makers, wedding venues, wedding planners, wedding cake bakers, wedding rentals companies, wedding photographers, etc, is created by the perceived social necessity of an elaborate wedding ceremony.[8]


  • Military–Industrial Complex — Businesses that supply the army with uniforms, artillery, etc, profit from the continuation of war and will be hurt by peace.[9]
  • Prison–Industrial Complex — Businesses access labor from prisoners that is cheaper than civilian labor, thus they profit from high incarceration rates.[10]
  • Medical–Industrial Complex — Hospitals and pharmaceutical companies require patients to be sick, thus business interests are at odds with the goal of making people healthy.[11]
  • Wedding/Marriage–Industrial Complex — Wedding-related businesses and vendors profit from the growing extravagance and cost of weddings and will be negatively impacted by smaller, cheaper events or elopements, thus they perpetuate the pressure on brides to have expensive weddings.[12]


The suffix "–industrial complex" has been applied to the following:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ike's Warning Of Military Expansion, 50 Years Later". Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  2. ^ "Ike's Warning Of Military Expansion, 50 Years Later". Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  3. ^ "Organization, Mission and Functions Manual: Federal Bureau of Prisons". 2014-08-27. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  4. ^ "What the Wedding Industrial Complex Is – And How It's Hurting Our Ideas of Love". Everyday Feminism. 2017-04-13. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  5. ^ "The wedding industrial complex". 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  6. ^ Escobar, Natalie (2019-02-11). "The Wedding-Industry Bonanza, on Full Display". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  7. ^ Garber, Megan (2017-07-20). "How 'I Do' Became Performance Art". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  8. ^ "The Dark Side Of The Disney Princess Fantasy". HuffPost. 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  9. ^ Editors, History com. "Military-Industrial Complex". HISTORY. Retrieved 2020-11-02.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "Justice in America Episode 26: The Privatization of Prisons". The Appeal. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  11. ^ Relman, Arnold S. (1980-10-23). "The New Medical-Industrial Complex". New England Journal of Medicine. 303 (17): 963–970. doi:10.1056/NEJM198010233031703. ISSN 0028-4793. PMID 7412851.
  12. ^ "The wedding industrial complex". 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  13. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (2003-09-06). "Academic Industrial Complex". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  14. ^ Gandio, Jason Del. ""Neoliberalism and the Academic-Industrial Complex"". Truthout. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  15. ^ Smith, Andrea (2007-11-05). "Social-Justice Activism in the Academic Industrial Complex". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 23 (2): 140–145. ISSN 1553-3913.
  16. ^ Nibert, David (2011). "Origins and Consequences of the Animal Industrial Complex". In Steven Best; Richard Kahn; Anthony J. Nocella II; Peter McLaren (eds.). The Global Industrial Complex: Systems of Domination. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 197–209. ISBN 978-0739136980. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "10 Essential Diaper Changing Tips For New Parents". HuffPost. 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  18. ^ Chopra, Samir (2013-09-13). "The Baby Industrial Complex". Samir Chopra. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  19. ^ "China Leads the Way in Diapers". Nonwovens Industry Magazine - News, Markets & Analysis for the Nonwovens Industry. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  20. ^ Steven Best; Richard Kahn; Anthony J. Nocella II; Peter McLaren, eds. (2011). The Global Industrial Complex: Systems of Domination. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0739136980. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex". INCITE!. 2018-08-01. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "What is the PIC? What is Abolition? – Critical Resistance". Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  24. ^ Nagel, Mechthild (2011). "The Criminal (Justice) Industrial Complex". In Steven Best; Richard Kahn; Anthony J. Nocella II; Peter McLaren (eds.). The Global Industrial Complex: Systems of Domination. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 117–131. ISBN 978-0739136980.