The issues of social exclusion and discrimination, along with its consequences on economic and social development of excluded groups have generally found lesser space in the mainstream social science discourse. At the same time, there has been a growing demand among the social groups for group-specific policies. Lack of understanding on these issues has constrained the capacity of government and civil society organisations to develop appropriate policies for socially excluded groups. The primary focus of IIDS, therefore, is to develop a scientific knowledge-base on the issues of social exclusion and discrimination through an intensive research that is interdisciplinary in nature. It undertakes research on thematic areas like the problems of marginalised groups, issues of social exclusion and discrimination and its consequences, human development, poverty, issues of governance, policies for inclusive development and other development concerns of various marginalised groups.
IIDS has seven research units set up on the basis of thematic areas and social groups.