Cultural Anthropology is the discipline which does - amongst other things - just what you describe, Norm.
There is a tendency these days to avoid using terms such as "primitive" to describe contemporary cultures which have established and retained social cohesion without ever having developed an apparent need for a complex material interaction with their environment, and in fact study of their adaptation to their relative environments is often used to illuminate and advance our understanding of human adaptational patterns generally, including those pertaining to more complex societies. Exactly what you wondered about, in other words.
Archaeological Anthropology has also played a part in bringing about this more informed appreciation of diversity without prejudicial assessments of "primitivism" clouding the issue. Over the years the accumulation of material evidence for the development of these cultures has helped dispel the notion that they have been somehow "stuck" in developmental stasis since the Stone Age (or indeed any other point in time in the past). As we now understand much more about climate change patterns over the millennia, for example, we can find evidential data supporting the theory that in many cases these cultures, just like everyone else on the planet, were often forced to adapt in order to survive, a point which of course should really have been self-evident from the start given that they have survived to be studied at all.
Interestingly, both archaeology and anthropology started out as scientific endeavours to understand contemporary society, and it was a while before a true understanding of the chronology and genuine antiquity of human development began to become evident through the findings this research produced. We tend nowadays to think of both as being obsessed primarily with the past, but in many ways Cultural Anthropology's renewed emphasis on applying its findings to understanding contemporary human societies is actually it being true to its genuine origins as a science.