Now stigma reaches Ascot racecourse

Racegoers Ascot were left angered and felt stigmatised after organisers at the venue attempted to impose a stricter dress code through a controversial scheme. Stewards at the event were instructed to issue orange stickers to any member of the crowd whose choice of clothing did not meet the new jacket-and-tie regulations for the premier enclosure.

The course has since issued an apology for its actions and has agreed to reimburse thousands of people - a move likely to cost the organisation around £25,000.

However, the Daily Mail reports that many individuals felt they had been issued with a naughty badge, with others growing angry to have been labelled in such a manner - especially when their choice of attire would usually be considered smart in any other setting.

Charles Barnett, chide executive at Ascot - which held its first meeting in 1711 - stated: "It is clear that we let down many of our premier enclosure customers with a well-intentioned but misguided policy."

Dr Victoria Galbraith, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Stickers are often used as positive reinforcement to promote good behaviour in children, but in this instance, it appears as though those receiving the orange sticker may have viewed the stewards' actions as punishment.

"What we see here is psychology's 'labelling theory' in action whereby the orange sticker enables the majority to view the minority as unacceptable.

"The orange sticker may serve as a mark, not only on their choice of dress code but, if internalised, as inference on their character.

"With these negative connotations, it is commonplace for the labelled to feel aggrieved and stigmatised.

"And, stigma is usually accompanied by some form of prejudice, perhaps with those dressed 'appropriately' for the occasion making some form of value judgement about those dressed 'inappropriately' based upon the presence of the sticker. This disapproval can lead to feelings of being outcast from a particular group.

"Whilst the feelings arisen in the 'labelled' race-goers may be short-term, it is worth considering how others who are more permanently labelled and subsequently ostracised may feel, such as those with mental health difficulties or physical disabilities."