INSHS Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

Humans in the world and in society

Research carried out in the laboratories run by the CNRS Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (INSHS) helps to build the essential theories and analytical tools needed to understand and shed light on the choices made by our societies. Research focuses on humans, considered as the product of their own history, as the creators of speech, language and signs, as the conveyors of knowledge and culture, and as players in complex political, social and economic arenas. The main role of INSHS and its laboratories in the French humanities and social sciences landscape is to ensure the emergence of new experimental and theoretical fields.


INSHS implements CNRS's policies in its own research areas. It plays a fundamental role in research, in partnership with universities and major organizations. It promotes a multidisciplinary approach in humanities and social sciences, and encourages interdisciplinarity with the other sciences. It coordinates the networks that organize research at the regional and national level, through the Maisons des Sciences de l'Homme and the creation of research networks, federations and scientific interest groups (GIS).

Strategic priorities

The joint supervision of three hundred units, both in France and abroad, give INSHS an exceptional overview of research in its own areas of expertise. Within a constantly changing academic and scientific landscape, and in line with the French National Research and Innovation Strategy, the Institute and its partners set convergent or complementary scientific priorities, including:

  • cultural areas, comparative approaches and comprehensive studies;
  • quantitative studies, modeling and data formalization;
  • gender studies, research into discrimination;
  • studies on work and inequality;
  • studies at the interface with other sciences: ethics in science, responsibility, human-computer interaction, security, risks and protection, environment and sustainable development.


Providing scientific and technical information is a major concern for the Institute, which plays an active role in the transition to digital humanities. It has therefore decided to develop a large number of technical platforms, research infrastructures (IR), and very large-scale research infrastructures (TGIR), which help to fuel and support French contribution to European facilities.

INSHS also backs a wide range of dissemination tools intended to promote the influence of its researchers, such as the HAL-SHS archives, the portal, and the academic blogs.

INSHS facilitates the transfer of knowledge to society, especially through economic and social initiatives and cultural partnerships. A survey has been carried out under the auspices of a multidisciplinary thematic network on finding applications for research results, and a symposium on the transfer of knowledge and innovation in humanities and social sciences will bring together the most outstanding projects in this field. INSHS participates in the humanities and social sciences technology transfer consortium (CVT).

International presence

INSHS's strategy for the internationalization of humanities and social sciences is four-fold. It includes:

  • managing a network of research units abroad, in partnership with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with other research institutions in France and abroad. These units provide opportunities for the mobility of researchers, academics and PhD students through temporary appointments;
  • supporting the internationalization of French humanities and social science journals by providing on-line English versions of the most emblematic publications;
  • supporting research programs within the framework of international cooperation tools, such as bilateral cooperation agreements, researcher exchange agreements, International Programs for Scientific Cooperation (PICS), International Research Networks (GDRI) and International Associated Laboratories (LIA);
  • supporting Institutes for Advanced Studies (IEA) and the French IEA network of which CNRS is a founding member.

Key figures

  • 8 911 researchers and academics, including 1 730 from CNRS, 2 398 engineers and technicians, including 1 483 from CNRS, and 6 228 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows*
  • 267 research and service units and 10 research federations*
  • 17 research networks and 1 service network*
  • 3 international joint units, 33 international programs for scientific cooperation, 31 international research networks and 7 international associated laboratories

*Source: Labintel, 31/12/2011 – processed by CNRS / SAP2S