BRITAIN AND BELGIUM: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES Before moving to an account of specific national policies towards the police services and the hospital sector, we will first take a broader look at the policy context and regime in each country. This is intended to provide readers with a framework within which the policies themselves can be analysed and understood. We will approach this task in a ‘nested’ fashion, beginning with the most general and impressionistic, then moving steadily ‘inwards’ towards more analytic and specific features. Thus we begin with general, popular stereotypes (this section), then shift to broad categorizations of the political systems in each country (section 2.2), then sketch a historical narrative for the two policy sectors that particularly interest us (section 2.3). We will then be ready to turn to specific accounts of sectoral polices in Chapters 3 and 4. This chapter is therefore concerned with institutional frameworks (the ‘statics’ in one sense, although these institutions are actually in a process of constant evolution, as will be seen), and in subsequent chapters we will move to the ‘dynamics’ of policy. Let us begin, therefore, with the popular stereotypes – or at least, first, the stereotypes from a British perspective. One might sum this up in the intendedly humorous English taunt, ‘Can you name three famous Belgians?’ The implication is that most British people could not, and that they could not because Belgium does not produce famous people, unlike Britain. (As many commentators have pointed out this is a deeply...
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