The Centre for Social Studies (CES), founded in 1978, is a research institution in the area of the social sciences affiliated with the School of Economics of the University of Coimbra. It is directed by Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos and has 80 researchers, as well as 19 associate researchers and 40 junior researchers. Several of its researchers are full-time researchers. All other researchers combine work at CES with teaching (mainly at the School of Economics and at the Faculty of Arts) or with other professional activities. The research team includes sociologists, economists, legal scholars, anthropologists, educators, literary and cultural studies scholars, architects, geographers, historians, and medical doctors.

In February 2002, the Ministry of Science granted CES the status of Associate Laboratory, after an international evaluation that classified CES as Excellent (the maximum on the evaluation scale). The decision was based on two central premises: first, the Centre´s ability to conduct innovative research on Portuguese society in its different dimensions, and on the current transformations in the world scene, especially those occurring in semiperipheral societies, such as the Portuguese one, and in societies in the Southern hemisphere, in particular in the Portuguese-speaking countries; second, the Centre´s commitment to questions of public interest, in particular those involving public policies and new forms of regulation; relationships between scientific knowledge and citizens’ participation; the legal system and the reform of the administration of justice.


The activities of the Centre pursue four major objectives:

1) to maximize the opportunities of developing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, combining the potentialities of sociological research with contributions from several other fields and research traditions;

2) to develop new analytical and theoretical approaches and innovative methodological tools capable of capturing the specificity of Portuguese society in the context of the increasing transnationalization of social relations;

3) to combine analytical and methodological pluralism with theoretical coherence in order to develop an integrated research agenda;

4) to produce databases and other information tools to be made available for multiple uses in joint initiatives with civil society organizations and State institutions, as well as with national, regional and local public administration.

Strategic orientations

By becoming an Associate Laboratory, CES committed itself not only to further pursue and consolidate its research, following a long-standing strategic orientation, but also to enhance its internal organization and to pay special attention to the public impact of research and the diffusion of results. At the same time, the training of young researchers and the promotion of advanced training, particularly at the postgraduate level, became an even more important part of the strategic development of CES. The investment in North-South cooperation and in the development and consolidation of relations with Portuguese-speaking countries is another important aspect of the Center’s agenda. These goals are pursued within the framework of four broadly conceived thematic areas that provide the underlying structure for the overall organization and integration of research at the Centre for Social Studies.

Decision-making bodies

  • The General Assembly of Researchers . Composed of all the permanent researchers, it decides on the major guidelines of the Centre’s activities; discusses and approves the budget for each year; assesses the financial and activities report from the Board of Directors; decides on the admission of new members.

  • The Scientific Committee (CC) , on which sit the researchers with doctoral degrees and one representative of non-doctoral researchers, is currently presided over by José Manuel Mendes. The CC deliberates on all the issues related to the research activities of CES, including the definition of criteria and priorities concerning the hiring of staff.

  • The Board of Directors, composed of 4 members elected every two years by the General Assembly of Researchers, at present includes Tiago Santos Pereira (Executive Director), Hermes Augusto Costa, Paula Duarte Lopes and Sílvia Portugal. It is responsible for implementing the guidelines formulated by the General Assembly and Scientific Committee; for coordinating and overseeing the administrative and technical services of support to research (logistics, maintenance, accounting, clerical work, etc.); and for submitting annual reports to the General Assembly.

  • The General Director, who is responsible for the coordination of all the research activities of the Centre and for external representation. Boaventura de Sousa Santos has held this position since the foundation of the Centre.
      Center of Excelence - Assessment of Research Units carried out by the Ministry of Science and Technology, 2005
      CES Center for Social Studies