Introducing the Institute for Community Studies

The Institute for Community Studies is a new kind of research institute, with people and communities at its heart. We believe that the involvement of communities leads to better decision making on the issues that most affect them. 

We engage with communities and experts across the UK to identify and prioritise the top questions that research and policy need to answer based on what matters, directing research towards the most urgent and salient questions and amplifying community perspectives. 

We prove and improve our practice by understanding what’s working, and through systematic engagement with communities, the sector and experts, share where there are weaknesses and gaps in our understanding. Through a unique combination of methods, we are giving increasing weight to the stories, experience and evidence created in communities supported through our growing national network of community researchers. 

We provoke direct engagement with policy makers, business and those holding the power to change the experience of communities today through working with those who care about taking action.


The original Institute for Community Studies (ICS) was established by social researcher and serial innovator Michael Young in 1953. The ICS was an urban studies institute, established primarily as a vehicle to examine the lives of ordinary working-class people whose interests had been inadequately recognised by those in power. The Institute used a combination of ethnographic research and social innovation as its major tools. 

In 2005, the Institute merged with the Mutual Aid Centre and was became The Young Foundation, in honour of Michael Young who passed away in 2002. The ICS and The Young Foundation have together created and supported over 80 organizations including: Which?, The Open University, Economic and Social Research Council, Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), School for Social Entrepreneurs, Uprising, Action for Happiness and Agenda.