Cultural systems vary widely across the world. Partly this is due to different cultures' occupying different ecological and environmental niches. But partly it is due to similar circumstances giving rise to multiple stable equilibriums, each with a distinct cultural form. Using insights and examples from various fields, this article illustrates the way that multiple equilibriums can emerge and the forces that push a culture toward one equilibrium point or another. Considerations of game theory principles, mutual interdependence, historical circumstance, dependence on initial conditions, and crucial choice points are highlighted in discussing the ways humans create and re-create their culture. Cultural traits develop within physical, social, intracultural, and intercultural niches, and implications of this for how culture might be studied and the benefits of combining an "equilibrium" perspective and a "meaning" perspective are discussed.
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