The Hamburg Institute for Social Research (HIS) was established in 1984 by Jan Philipp Reemtsma. Sociologist Wolfgang Knöbl has been its director since April 2015.
The hallmarks of the Institute are its broad theoretical openness to a variety of themes in research and a distinctive range of services for the interested public. This includes the Library, which is open to the public, and the Archives, which house holdings that are unique in Germany, including a special collection on “Protest”.
The core of the Institute’s activities, however, is research. Research at the Institute is committed to dialogue in the humanities and social sciences. Scholars work together in empirical social research, historical analysis, and theory-building in the social sciences to conduct research projects and numerous conferences and lectures in collaboration with other German and European institutions. The Institute’s academic staff presents results from their projects and research findings in articles, books, conferences, lectures, lecture series, and exhibitions. Important forums for academic publications and debate are the Institute’s journal, Mittelweg 36, and the Institute’s publishing company, Hamburger Edition. Moreover, the Institute hosts the Soziopolis website, which offers a unique German-language forum for discussion in the social sciences; the Soziopolis platform is independent of the Institute’s interests.
The Hamburg Institute for Social Research is an operating foundation under civil law. The direct purpose of the foundation is to initiate and conduct academic research projects as well as to organize conferences and workshops in the area of social research.