Yokel is a derogatory term referring to the stereotype of unsophisticated country people. In the United States, it is used to describe someone from the rural South or Midwest. Synonyms for yokel include bumpkin, hayseed and hick.
In England, yokels are traditionally depicted as wearing the old West Country farmhand's dress of straw hat and white smock, chewing or sucking a piece of straw and carrying a pitchfork or rake, listening to Scrumpy and Western music. Yokels are portrayed as living in rural areas of Britain such as the Yorkshire Dales, the West Country, or East Anglia. English yokels speak a country dialect from some part of England.http://what.org/cctimes3rev.htm Yokels are depicted as straightforward and simple, and they are easily deceived as they fail to see through false pretenses. They are also depicted as talking about bucolic topics like cows, sheep, goats, wheat, alfalfa, fields, crops, tractors, and buxom wenches to the exclusion of all else and don't seem to be aware of or at least show interest in the world outside of their own surroundings. Most of the time though this is not the case some country folks are smart and enjoy the rest of the world as well as their own ranches or farms.
The word may derive either from a comic mispronunciation of the word 'local', from a dialect word 'yokel' meaning 'woodpecker' or from the Somerset word 'yogel' meaning 'owl', owls being common in Somerset.
The development of television brought many previously isolated communities into mainstream British culture in the 1950s and 1960s. The Internet continues this integration, further eroding the town/country divide. In the 21st century British country folk are less frequently seen as yokels. In British TV Show The Two Ronnies, it was asserted that despite political correctness, it is possible to poke fun at yokels as nobody sees themselves as being one.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the term is a "by-form" of the personal name Richard (like Dick) and Hob (like Bob) for Robert. Although the English word "hick" is of recent vintage, distinctions between urban and rural dwellers are ancient.
According to a popular etymology derives from the nickname "Old Hickory" for Andrew Jackson, one of the first Presidents of the United States to come from rural hard-scrabble roots. This nickname suggested that Jackson was tough and enduring like an old Hickory tree. Jackson was particularly admired by the residents of remote and mountainous areas of the United States, people who would come to be known as "hicks."
Though not a term explicitly denoting lower class, some argue that the term degrades impoverished rural people and that "hicks" continue as one of the few groups that can be ridiculed and stereotyped with impunity. In "The Redneck Manifesto," Jim Goad argues that this stereotype has largely served to blind the general population to the economic exploitation of rural areas, specifically in Appalachia, the South, and parts of the Midwest.
Goad, Jim. (1997). The Redneck Manifesto: How Hillbillies, Hicks, and White Trash Became America's Scapegoats. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684838648