Lewis, Oscar,1914–70, American anthropologist, b. New York City, grad. City College of New York (B.S.S., 1936) and Columbia (Ph.D., 1940). He was a professor of anthropology at Washington Univ. (St. Louis) from 1946 to 1948 and after that at the Univ. of Illinois. His theory of the culture of poverty holds that the poor in modern capitalist societies represent an identifiable culture that transcends national differences, and that the social and psychological consequences of poverty are severe and difficult to overcome. Much of his work describes the lives of poor Hispanics in the United States and Latin America. Among his works are Five Families (1959), The Children of Sánchez (1961), La Vida (1966), and Anthropological Essays (1970).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
Lewis, Oscar(1914–70) anthropologist; born in New York City. He founded the anthropology department at the University of Illinois: Urbana (1948), where he spent his career. His powerful best-selling oral histories of Mexican villagers, Mexican and Puerto Rican slumdwellers, and the Cuban revolution led to his controversial theory of poverty as a transnational subculture and brought widespread public attention to the poor.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.