In the past, you took things apart and studied them, but an even better way is to make them. When Craig Reynolds studied the flocking of birds in 1986, he decided to simulate flocking. It only took three simple rules (separation, alignment, cohesion) to be perfectly recreated inside a computer. Suddenly, by trying to create lifelike behavior, we understood something about life itself.
Birds, bees, ants and all that beautiful natural complexity comes from the bottom up. Simple rules among the participants (e.g., ants) construct a complex system. This is ok. If there is a binary opposition between natural and cultural, what does it mean to simulate cultural systems?