Professor Kovacs studied philosophy and history and completed his PhD in sociology at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. He has held teaching and research positions at Paderborn University (FRG), École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), New York University (New York), TH Twente (The Netherlands), Salomon Steinheim Institut für Deutsch-Jüdische Geschichte, Duisburg , Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna, Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum für Jüdische Studien, Potsdam , Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Wien, Institut für Soziologie, Universitat Wien, Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, TU Berlin.
His research interests include minority identities, prejudice, antisemitism, and sociology of post-Holocaust Jewry. In the last years, Professor Kovács has carried out empirical research on antisemitism in post-Communist Hungary, on Jewish identity in Hungary, and on national identity and European integration. From 2002 to 2012, he was a senior researcher at the Institute for Ethnic and Minority Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
He has published over 100 scholarly works, including Anti-Semitism and the Young Elite in Hungary (1996), Antisemitic Prejudices in Contemporary Hungary (1999), Jews and Jewry in Contemporary Hungary: Results of a Sociological Survey (ed., 2004), New Jewish Identities: Contemporary Europe and Beyond (co-editor, 2003), NATO, Neutrality and National Identity: the Case of Austria and Hungary (co-editor, 2003), Stranger at hand. Antisemitic prejudices in post-communist Hungary (2005), Communism's Jewish Question (ed., 2016)
- Anti-Semitism and the Young Elite in Hungary (1996)
- Antisemitic Prejudices in Contemporary Hungary (1999)
- Jews and Jewry in Contemporary Hungary: Results of a Sociological Survey (ed., 2004)
- New Jewish Identities: Contemporary Europe and Beyond
- NATO, Neutrality and National Identity: the Case of Austria and Hungary (co-editor, 2003)
- Stranger at hand. Antisemitic prejudices in post-communist Hungary (2010)
- Antisemitic Prejudice and Political Antisemitism in Present-Day Hungary (The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism 2012)
CEU doctoral supervision:
- Jews, Israelites, Zionists: the Hungarian state's policies on Jewish issues in a comparative perspective (1956-1968) / Kata Bohus (2014)
- Foreign land as a metaphor of one's own: travel and travel writing in Russian history and culture, 1200s-1800s / Ksenia Polouektova (2009)
- Between marginal rebels and mainstream critics / Marioara-Camelia Craciun (2009)
- National assimilation assimilated nation: nationalism and assimilation in Budapest at the turn of the twentieth century / Eszter Szilassy (2006)
- Modern jewish politics in Central Europe: the Jewish party of interwar Czechoslovakia, 1918-1938 / Marie Chrova (2006)