Fixes that Fail: A system archetype for examining racialized structures within the food system

Elizabeth Benninger, Gwendolyn Donley, Megan Schmidt-Sane, Jill K. Clark, David W. Lounsbury, Dominque Rose, Darcy Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Access to fresh and healthy food within a neighborhood has been identified as a social mechanism contributing to community health. Grounded in the understanding that challenges related to equity within a food system are both structural and systemic, our research demonstrates how systems thinking can further understandings of food system complexity. Within systems thinking, we provide an illustration of how system archetypes offer an analytic tool for examining complex community issues. We map semi-structured interview data from community stakeholders (N = 22) to the “Fixes that Fail” system archetype to illuminate systemic challenges, such as incarceration and poverty, that structure food system inequity in urban communities. Within our research, the “Fixes that Fail” archetype provided a narrative interpretive tool for unveiling complexity within the food system and interdependencies with racialized systems such as criminal justice and labor markets. This system archetype provided an accessible approach for generating narratives about systemic complexity, the production of inequity through racialized forces, and opportunities for transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-470
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Food systems
  • Incarceration
  • Structural racism
  • System archetypes
  • System dynamics modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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