What Is Procreation?


While the terms “reproduction” and “procreation” both refer to the same process, the meanings of these words are not the same. Reproduction implies a finished outcome, or a copy, and is commonly associated with children of the same species. By contrast, creation means the act of begetting, and is often used to describe both legitimate and illegitimate offspring. This definition suggests that conception and birth are not the same.

Despite the differences in meaning, the term ‘procreation’ is often used in the work of British anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, who is one of the most prominent researchers working on reproduction. Her early publications use the term to refer to new reproductive technologies. She co-edited a volume of essays on the topic in 2003. This volume focuses on reproductive technologies in all their forms. While the focus is on natural processes, this book highlights the role of technology and medical intervention in the process of procreation.

Although ‘procreation’ is a general term, it is used in collective volumes on reproduction. For example, the French term for the process of bringing forth offspring is ‘generation’. Similarly, the word ‘procreation’ can be found in popular manuals about ‘art of procreating the sexes at will’, which refers to procreation of a male offspring.