Poland and Greece: Transition or Embeddedness?
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In this chapter I describe and compare the Polish and Greek health systems and their medical and nursing professions, and the implications of their position on the periphery of Europe. The notion of periphery being used here not only refers to geography but has another meaning too: Poland was part of the post-1945 Soviet Empire and Greece has strong links with the Balkans and strong Orthodox religious traditions (Mouzelis 1986); both lie outside the welfare regimes identified by Esping-Andersen (1990) and yet are, or are about to be, part of the European Union. Economically neither country is yet in the same league as the other countries discussed in this book. This is, in part, but not solely, because they have been politically and industrially late developers, due in part to their both being victims of imperial domination, Poland from the European and Russian powers and Greece from the Ottoman Empire. Now, however, the political, economic and social aspirations of both countries are focused much more towards the European Union, which has important implications for the countries health systems and professions of medicine and nursing. To the degree to which this is happening one can assert that ‘convergence’ is taking place (Saltman 1997). Political and policy reorientation within the health care system of a country does not, however, automatically lead to a complete adherence to the new regime. No reforms work on a clean slate – pre-existing social and cultural practices are typically strongly embedded (Granovetter 1992). These may be eventually erased and replaced by (or incorporated within) the new practices or they may co-exist with the new arrangements and continue to exert a strong influence.
KeywordsSickness Fund Nursing Profession Welfare Regime Health Insurance Fund Communist Regime
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