On reproduction

Robbie Davis-Floyd and Sarah Franklin

This article appears in the Sage Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Sage Publications, 2005.
“Reproduction” in anthropology refers to the processes by which new social members are produced — specifically, the physiological processes of conception, pregnancy, birth, and child-raising. In its larger sense, “reproduction” is used to encompass the processes by which societies are reproduced for the future. The term is thus fraught with biological, cultural, and political meanings; power is a central focus in reproductive studies, as those who have the power to influence the process of reproduction can control large populations for better or for worse.

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