The Institute was founded by the General Assembly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences with its adoption of Resolution 5.1 on November 3, 2000. The primary objective of the Institute is to conduct research on the integration of minority communities in the social, economic and political spheres in Hungary, the Central European region, and Europe as a whole. Research on the increasingly complex social developments requires new approaches and methods of research as well as cooperation between the various academic disciplines and fields of study. For this reason, cultural anthropologists, legal experts, sociologists and historians work together at the Institute.
Since January 1, 2012 the Institute has operated – together with the Institutes for Legal Studies, Political Science and Sociology – under the auspices of the Centre for Social Sciences, and until 2019 within the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. It undertakes basic, applied and comparative research, while preserving its professional independence.
As part of its basic activities the Institute gives priority to the following research tasks:
- Conducting research on the community features and social situation of national and ethnic minorities – in particular Roma – in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe, defining such in social and scientific terms, analysing the effects on social structure, and elaborating new methods and interpretative models arising from these objectives;
- Conducting comparative analysis of integration processes in Central Europe, of ethno-political models, and of the legal status of the minorities;
- Conducting historical research on changes in the demographic, economic, political and cultural situation of the national and ethnic minorities in Hungary and of the minority Hungarian communities abroad;
- Researching the social effects of the migration processes affecting Hungary as well as the social situation of migrant groups;
- Exploring identity components, with an analysis of the substantive and formal changes in European, national and local identities;
- Basic (linguistic and philological) research in Jewish studies which is necessary for research on Central European and Hungarian Jewry.
To promote its goals, the Institute shall:
- Establish and foster domestic and international relations;
- Enhance international awareness of Hungarian research on minorities;
- Cooperate with domestic and foreign academic workshops and undertake joint research with them;
- Assist in the further training of domestic and foreign PhD students and scholarship holders;
- Create research documentation and specialised databases and make these available to the academic community and the broader public via the Internet or in printed form.