ISCAR was formally constituted in June 2002, reflecting a decision to integrate two organizations — International Society for Cultural Research and Activity Theory (ISCRAT) and Conference for Sociocultural Research — that were each oriented to supporting scientific communication about different aspects of sociocultural, cultural- historical and activity theory approaches. These organisations arose out of meetings and activities that had started initially and independently in the early 1980s, which subsequently developed into quadrennial Congresses (five ISCRAT Congresses from 1986-2002, and three Conferences for Sociocultural Research from 1992-2000) — involving researchers from five continents.

ISCAR aims to recognize and respect these diverse origins and interests, and preserve conditions for their expression within the Society.
ISCAR wants to develop multidisciplinary theoretical and empirical research on the social, cultural and historical human practices and to promote scientific communication and research cooperation among its members. This scientific association has members from a wide range of disciplines such as psychology, education, philosophy, history, sociology, linguistics, anthropology, research on workplace practices, computer science, information systems, knowledge management, clinical neuropsychology and rehabilitation, occupational therapy, criminology, and social work.