Cultural Variation Considerations and Implications by Dov Cohen

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Similar environments can produce quite different social systems, while similar cultures may exist in different environments. Examining cultural variations in terms of game theory, dynamic systems theory, evolutionary biology, political science and economics, Cohen argues (p.451) that constant interactions and adjustments of actors within a social system may lead to multiple social patterns or equilibriums, mapping onto definite cultural systems of norms, rules, and sets of common meanings and expectations. He also proposes that in order to better understand the ways how cultures are created and recreated one should consider them in terms of mutual interdependence, historical development and meaning, game theory principles, and crucial choice points and junctures. The author’s suggestion is that the cultural system processes too complex to be viewed only as a functional response to the environmental impact. Cohen also offers that the emergence and stability of cultural traits should be examined within four types of niches shaping cultural patterns, such as physical, social, intercultural, and intercultural.Part 1 of the article deals with the traditional approach to the emergence of different cultural adaptations due to different ecologies and economies. Being widely researched and proved by scholars, this fact is undoubtedly a starting point of cultural variations studies. Numerous examples may be found. For instance, the works of anthropologist David Gilmore (1990) demonstrate that the conceptions of masculinity depend on the environmental conditions of the social group. In cases, where the conditions of life do not demand males to fulfill their major functions of protecting, procreating, and providing, one may observe relatively androgynous sex roles, while harsher environments and scarcer resources lead to more distinct male functions and stressed manhood.