Broadly speaking, the AISSR research programme focuses on the functioning of contemporary societies and their interrelationships from a historical, comparative and empirical perspective. More specifically, the research programme is organized into thirteen thematically focused groups, with an anchor in one or more of the represented disciplines: sociology; geography; planning and development studies; political science; and anthropology. These programme groups operate as intellectual communities of scholars, contributing complementary research perspectives to the institute as a relatively new entity. The groups cover a broad spectrum of topics, such as health, citizenship, stratification, globalization and democratic representation, yet all through the lens of international comparison and multi-level analysis.
Cooperation across these programme groups is institutionalised in affiliated Centres: the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), the Centre for Social Sciences and Global health (SSGH), the Amsterdam Centre for Contemporary European Studies (ACCESS EUROPE), the Centre for Inequality Studies (AMCIS), the Centre of Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS), the Centre for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES), the Amsterdam Centre for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) and the Amsterdam Centre for Conflict Studies (ACCS).
These five interdisciplinary centres foster activity across programme boundaries. They are organized around research priority areas (universitaire onderzoekszwaartepunten – this is the case for Urban Studies and Global Health) and research focus points (facultaire onderzoeksspeerpunten, this is the case for Urban Studies, Global Health and Inquality). They are composed of AISSR staff from the programme groups as well as external guests. The Center for Social Science and Global Health collaborates with the Medical Faculty in the RPA Global Health, which was awarded structural additional funding by the University of Amsterdam in 2011 in a competitive selection procedure.
AISSR research themes are highly pertinent to a rapidly changing society. The AISSR therefore contributes to public debates on key issues – specifically contributing to interventions that address pressing social problems – and engages with relevant stakeholders (government agencies, NGOs and the private sector) at local, national and global levels. The institute shares insights with other stakeholders in wider society through the following methods: