A broad-based, comparative research center in sociology

The Observatoire Sociologique du Changement (OSC) is a joint Sciences Po / CNRS  research center.
Part of Sciences Po's Sociology Department, OSC is devoted to research that covers the multidimensionality of social inequality in contemporary societies. OSC’s research program seeks to describe patterns and trends of inequality, analyze their mechanisms and inform and contribute to policy analysis in a world where inequality has become a major threat.
The center has a strong tradition of comparative sociology highlighting the role of welfare state policies, institutional mechanisms and national narratives related to inequality.

Sciences Po-OSC is committed to theory-driven empirical research, drawing on a diversity of methods (qualitative, quantitative, experimental, etc.), adopting micro, meso and macro perspectives, and promoting interdisciplinary approaches for an integrated research on inequality in social sciences.

OSC faculty members are international experts in the study of different facets of inequality such as education, gender, family, life course, labor market and economic inequality, social mobility, urban segregation, migration, ethnoracial minorities, cultural inequality and digital inequality. The research agenda is also engaged in enhancing new perspectives in inequality studies such as environmental inequality and health inequality.

Head of the OSC is Mirna Safi, Associate Professor at Sciences Po, since January 1, 2019.

Mirna Safi (image Alexis Lecomte, Sciences Po)

Mirna Safi has been a member of the OSC since 2007. She is the first woman leading the laboratory since its start in 1988.  Her research topics focuses on migration, urban segregation, discriminations and ethno-racial inequalities. She is also affiliated to the LIEPP.

OSC currently has 50 members, including 24 doctoral students and 15 associate researchers.


Henri Mendras

  • Henri Mendras (1988-1996)
  • Philippe Besnard (1996-2001)
  • Alain Chenu (2003-2013)
  • Marco Oberti (2014-2018)
  • Mirna Safi (2019-...)

teaching, doctoral training and supervision

OSC hosts PhD students enrolled in Sciences Po’s Doctoral Program in Sociology. The center stands out for its commitment to research training, guided from the beginning by its founding purpose: to train new and talented sociologists in line with the most recent theoretical and methodological developments in the discipline. Our doctoral students produce research that is intended for publication in peer-reviewed French and international journals.

With over 30 PhD students fully integrated into the life of the center, the OSC plays an important role in doctoral training.

The OSC's members teach a number of courses within the Sciences Po's campuses in Paris, Reims, Le Havre, Poitiers and Menton, into graduates and undergraduates programmes. They are also associate to the academic staff of the School of Public Affairs and Urban School.   


The OSC was rated A+ by AERES (French Evaluation Agency for Research and Higher Education) in January 2013. Read the AERES evaluation (in French, pdf, 747 Ko).
The HCERES (High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education) underlined in 2018 "... an undeniable level of scientific excellence: the number and quality of scientific productions, the very high level of international and national recognition, loads of requests for scientific expertise and the excellent employment of young doctors in the academic world." Read here the final notice (in French, pdf, 358 Ko).


Article updated on 19-08-2021
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