Redneck is slang pejorative term for white poor rural farmers mostly from south of US. This term originated from idea that farmers were often working outdoors and were bent over their positions and hence their necks got sunburned. Hence the term red neck. Use of this word has been seen in different written documents in 1830s. This term has mixed history and lot of people consider this word to be derogatory. Also, there are others who view the categorization with lot of pride. Originally, this term started out as derogatory.
After American civil war which took place from 1861-1865, lot of small farms in south went through hard times. People who had difficulty in subsisting were categorized with different derogatory and pejorative labels like redneck, poor white trash, white trash, and cracker. Such terms were used for slandering the economically challenged people and they were marked below others in social and economic level.
In 19th century, this term was used for different kinds of people. For instance, the term wasn’t perceived as slander and it was in fact a badge of pride. People who shared the sentiment took it as a title for individual freedom and self-determination.
In 1970s, this term was again taken as derogatory and it was used for labelling anyone who was intellectually inferior or unsophisticated. some people blame the mass media for spreading this derogatory stereo type of anachronistic rural farmer who struggles with modernity and urban life. This stereotype isn’t just limited to southern US famers but to anyone. Today, people are more likely to be called redneck if they life in any rural area.
Jeff Foxworthy, an American comedian is held responsible to some extent for spreading this term widely. In 1993, he made comedy album called ‘You Might Be a Redneck if…’ and it started redneck fad in US. The comedy centres on working class and appeals generally to the common man.
Some say that rednecks are cultural entity and are subjected to the ethnic satire which has muddied true identity of this group. Such people fear that this group is nothing apart from derogatory and stereotype label instead of being distinct group having some beliefs. The proponents also argue that the rednecks aren’t bound by any geographical borders and are instead defined by shared belief in some way of life. It relates to one which eschews urban and suburban living with hard work in rural areas or smaller towns and also includes passion for self-determination and freedom.