Avineri has written extensively in the history of political philosophy, especially on the political thought of Marx, Hegel, and on the early Zionist political theories of Moses Hess and Theodor Herzl. He has also written numerous books and articles on Middle Eastern affairs and international affairs.
Avineri contributed in revising Hegel's political thought, showing Hegel's pluralism. He criticized Karl Popper's theories about Hegel, where Popper denounced Hegel as an apologist of state power and precursor of 20th century totalitarianism.
Avineri was also involved in the debate over the collapse of the Soviet Union. He argued that it was the pre-capitalist structure of 1917 Russia, as well as the strong authoritarian traditions of the Russian state and its weak civil society, which pushed the Soviet revolution towards its repressive development.
His recent intellectual biography of Herzl shows how developments in his native Austro-Hungarian Empire, rather than the Dreyfus Affair in France, convinced Herzl of the failure of Jewish emancipation in Europe and of the need to find a political solution for the Jews, based on national self-determination, outside of Europe.
He served as Director of Eshkol Research Institute (1971-74); Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences (1974-76); Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1976-77); and Director of the Institute for European Studies at the Hebrew University(1997-2002).
Avineri has had numerous visiting appointments including Yale University, Wesleyan University, Australian National University, Cornell University, University of California, Queen's College, Northwestern University, Cardozo School of Law, and Oxford and, most recently, the University of Toronto. He has been a visiting scholar at the Wilson Center, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Brookings Institute in Washington, DC and at the Institute of World Economics and International Relations in Moscow. He is currently Recurring Visiting Professor at the Central European University in Budapest.
Avineri served as Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1975-77. He also headed the Israeli delegation to the UNESCO General Assembly and in 1979 he was a member of the joint Egyptian-Israeli commission that negotiated the Cultural and Scientific Agreement between the two countries.
Avineri is the recipient of many honors and awards including a British Council Scholarship (1961); Rubin Prize in the Social Sciences (1968); Naphtali Prize for the study of Hegel (1977); Present Tense Award for the Study of Zionism (1982); and Israel Prize (1996). In 2006 he received the Israel Political Science Association Award for his contribution to the discipline in Israel and abroad. He holds a Ph.D. Honoris Causa from the University of Cluj-Napoca (Romania).