Oscar Lewis was a distinguished and internationally known writer, the author of numerous articles and books. He is best known for devising the "culture of poverty" theory and applying the life history and family studies approach to studies of urban poverty.
Among his nine published volumes, Five Families, The Children of Sanchez, and Pedro Martinez have become landmarks of anthropological studies. Professor Lewis received numerous fellowships and grants, including two Guggenheim awards. His anthropological fieldwork has ranged from the Blackfoot Indians of Canada to Texas farmers, from a Cuban sugar plantation to Spain, and from Mexico to a village in northern India.