If the previous chapter sought to explore what, theoretically at least, were the options facing policy makers, the present one seeks to explore not what policy makers can do, but why they do what they do: why do they intervene at all, and why do they intervene in the ways they do? It attempts this by presenting a range of theoretical perspectives, each of which throws light upon the macro-processes within which policy makers operate, and which help to explain national patterns in housing policy. Taking the case studies in Chapter One as illustrations: why have Japanese governments encouraged home ownership and private sector solutions to an extent that has not been apparent in the Netherlands, and why have both North American and British housing policies in the last two decades been characterized by a greater insertion of market principles? In other words, we seek some assistance in the understanding, rather than the description, of differences and similarities over both time and space.
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