The Institute of Social Sciences was founded on 10 July 1957 by the Federal Executive Council of the Federal National Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1977, the Republic of Serbia assumed the role of the founder. Upon the establishment, the Institute’s activities were organised in departments for legal, economic, historical and sociological sciences, and in early 1960s, two science and research centres were established – for demographic research and for public opinion research, the latter being the first of its kind in Eastern Europe – as well as the department of philosophy. For a long time, the Institute was a graduate school with the faculty consisting of the leading scholarly authorities of the time, including Milan Bartoš, Rudi Supek, Jovan Đorđević, Radomir Lukić, Jože Goričar and Vuko Pavićević, while its students were the future university professors and researchers from the former Yugoslav republics. Until 1998, the Institute was a part of the University of Belgrade.

Today, the Institute has six scientific research centres (Centre for Demographic Research, Centre for Politicological Research and Public Opinion, Centre for Economic Research, Centre for Legal Research, Centre for Sociological and Anthropological Research and Centre for Philosophy) and a staff of 38 doctoral degree holders and five master’s degree holders.

The work of the Institute is based on the research of basic social phenomena, promoting scientific thinking and developing scientific methodology in the domain of social sciences, professional development of scholars, developing cooperation with professional institutions and organisations, and implementing scientific research results in public policies.

So far, the Institute has: published several hundreds of books and collected papers and thousands of articles and other research papers; conducted complex scientific research projects; organised international and national scientific conferences; developed scientific cooperation at international and national levels; and its staff and associates took active participation in creating and developing public policies.

The Institute has been publishing the journal Stanovništvo [Population] since 1963 and has a library of 140,000 books and professional periodicals.